The Tech Herald

Annual Perseids meteor shower promises dazzling light show

by Steven Mostyn - Aug 10 2010, 10:03

Blink and you'll miss 'em. But perhaps not when there are 100 every hour. Image: fruitbit/Flickr.

If you happen to live outside a major city or busy town, in an area largely free of light pollution, then look to the heavens this week in the hopes of enjoying a stunning light show, courtesy of the annual Perseids meteor shower.

That’s the advice from NASA, which says cloud-free skies should showcase up to 100 shooting stars every hour (on Thursday night through Friday morning) as Earth passes through the debris tail left by the comet Swift Tuttle, causing 140,000mph meteor fragments to burn up as they penetrate the planet’s upper atmosphere.

The Perseids meteor shower, which scientists believe will peak between Wednesday and Saturday, happens every August and was so named because the comet’s dazzling detritus often appears to blaze across the sky from the constellation of Perseus.

“It promises to be one of the best displays of the year,” trumpeted a NASA spokeswoman. “If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a peak display of at least 80 meteors per hour.”

Budding stargazers keen on watching the Perseids meteor shower but worried about safety should relax and enjoy the spectacle, according to scientists, who say there’s no danger to the public as each quickly evaporating fragment blazing overhead is the size of a grain of sand.

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