August 09, 2010
When I was a kid, I would spend a couple of days each August camped out in our back yard to watch meteor showers. They happened right around my birthday every year, and I thought that was very cool! It felt like one more really neat birthday present each year.
The annual Perseids meteor shower is coming this week. This meteor shower occurs as the Comet Swift-Tuttle swings through the inner solar system and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel. Earth passes through the heart of this debris trail, and that's what allows us to see such a great meteor show annually. Those bright sparks of light in a meteor shower are actually pieces of the comet's debris field.
Peak viewing time for our area will be from 10:00 p.m. August 12th to dawn on August 13th. This year's moon cycle means that there will be little or no moonlight at that time, so we should see quite a show! If the view is not blocked by clouds, we should be able to see dozens of meteors streaking across the sky per hour.
If this experience whets your appetite for discovering more about astronomy, the library has many books and DVDs on the subject. Try using call number 520 and 523 to find more information. As for me, I will be outside at 2:00 a.m. Friday morning with a glass of iced tea enjoying my annual birthday meteor showers!Tags: astronomy