Wow! Fireworks in August! Well, not quite, but meteor showers are just as exciting.
Around August 10-13, stargazers stay up late to watch the Perseid shower, an eagerly awaited summertime event. An average of 65 meteors light up the sky each hour as they move towards the earth. The best time for viewing is after midnight, but you’ll see plenty earlier.
One hundred million meteors are thought to enter the earth’s atmosphere each day(!), most vaporizing high in the air. Occasionally fragments fall to earth, but this is a rare occurrence. When actual pieces of rock are found, they are known as meteorites.
While shooting stars (as they are popularly known) can be seen on almost any clear night, there are certain times during the year, such as in August, when large numbers of them can be seen.
The Perseid shower is actually the second largest of the annual meteor showers. The most spectacular takes place around January 1-3 and is known as the Quadrantids. An average of 100 meteors can be seen making their descent each
hour at that time.
The Sky is Falling!
The following table lists those annual meteor showers that are eagerly anticipated by stargazers. Pull up a comfortable chair, grab a warm blanket, and watch the show!
January 1-3: Quadrantids — E Between Bootes and head of Draco
April 20-22: Lyrids — NE Between Vega and Hercules
May 4-6: Eta-Aquarids — E SW of the Square of Pegasus
August 10-13: Perseids — NE From Perseus
October 20-23: Orionids — E Between Orion and Gemini
November 3-10: Taurids — NE Between Taurus, Auriga and Perseus
December 10-12: Geminids — E Near Castor in Gemini
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user tiggs81972]