11Aug2019

Perseids Meteor Shower This Week – Fireballs Possible!

Stargazers rejoice! The astronomical event of the year is just around the corner. Dubbed the Persied meteor shower, the mesmerising light show occurs every August as the Swift–Tuttle comet shoots past Earth.
Perseid meteors, caused by debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, began streaking across the skies in late July and will peak on the night of August 13.

Perseid meteors, caused by debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, began streaking across the skies in late July and will peak on the night of August 13. (Supplied)

As the comet travels on its 133-year orbit, debris crashes into our atmosphere at 212,000 kilometres per hour and reaches temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees. The result is bright streaks across the night sky. Australia is in prime position for stargazers to catch a glimpse of the meteor shower, with the peak occurring between moonset and sunrise on August 13 and 14. Previous years have seen up to 60 meteors spotted each hour.
That’s a lot although this year will be slightly underwhelming in comparison. “This year’s shower has unfortunate circumstance of having a full Moon right at the shower peak, reducing the meteor rates from over 60 per hour down to 15-20 per hour.  The space agency said no special equipment is needed to view the meteor shower, which will be visible by the naked eye.
“If it’s not cloudy, pick an observing spot away from bright lights, lay on your back, and look up,” explained NASA. “Meteors can generally be seen all over the sky so don’t worry about looking in any particular direction. “Remember to let your eyes become adjusted to the dark – it takes about 30 minutes. “Try to stay off your phone too, as looking at devices with bright screens will negatively affect your night vision and hence reduce the number of meteors you see.”
NASA said not all the meteors you’ll see belong to the Persoid meteor shower, with other background meteors and weaker showers also present. “If you see a meteor try to trace it backwards. If you end up in the constellation Perseus, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Persied,” NASA explained. “If finding constellations isn’t your forte, then note that Perseids are some of the fastest meteors you’ll see.”
Best times to view the meteor shower:
  • Brisbane: Moonset 5:23 am Sunrise 6:20 am
  • Sydney: Moonset 5:45 am Sunrise 6:36 am
  • Melbourne: Moonset 6:20 am Sunrise 7:07 am
  • Adelaide: Moonset 6:09 am Sunrise 6:58 am
  • Perth: Moonset 6:06 am Sunrise 6:54 am
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