Saturday, August 10, 2013

Catching the Falling Stars : Science curriculum

Perseid 2012
David Harpe, Boulder USA

"We have found that one meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other," (...) "It's the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 12th and 13th."

Bill Cooke, NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office 

According to NASA research, the upcoming Perseid meteor shower produces more fireballs — bright meteors that streak across the sky — than any other annual shower, earning it the title of "fireball".

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event occurring every August. They are tiny particles of dust and debris from the tail of a comet (109P/Swift-Tuttle) which planet Earth encounters every year in its orbit around the Sun. When these particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up causing bright flashes and streaks in the night sky. These are known as shooting stars or meteors.

The Perseids produced 568 tracked fireballs while the Geminid meteor shower came in a close second, producing 426 from 2008 to 2013. 

The annual Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak early next Sunday and Monday, August 11 and 12 2013, all night, and skywatchers in the world are flocking to their nation's national parks, where pristine, dark skies are ideal for watching what is typically the most dazzling fireball display of the year.

Some night sky enthusiasts have already reported Perseid sightings, but the meteor shower is expected to peak overnight Monday, August 12, 2013. 

photo: Credit: Starry Night Software
"Comet Swift-Tuttle has a huge nucleus - about 26 kilometers [16 miles] in diameter," (...) "Most other comets are much smaller, with nuclei only a few kilometers across. As a result, Comet Swift-Tuttle produces a large number of meteoroids, many of which are large enough to produce fireballs."

Bill Coke | NASA

Every year, the Earth passes through a trail of dust left behind in the comet's wake. The dust burns up in Earth's atmosphere, creating the brilliant shower.


Most of us are on vacation. But students can watch this exciting event of the summer with family or in campus summer.

However, if you are a Sciences teacher you can do some amazing videos or photos to explain the Perseid show during a lesson after school summer holiday.


There is an interesting guide written by Phil Plait (adaptation):
1) Find a place that's dark. The darker the spot you find away from house and city lights, the better.
2) Your best bet is to have as much sky visible as possible. The more heavenly real estate you can see, the better your chances of seeing more meteors.
3) Be outside after local midnight - literally, halfway between dusk and dawn. After midnight, you're on the part of the Earth facing into the direction of the Earth's travel around the Sun, so you'll see more meteors then.
4) Relax! Use a lounge chair or some other comfortable way to lie out. You'll see a meteors on average once a minute or three. So you need patience - which is rewarded when you see that bit of light zipping across the sky. 
5) Look up! You don't need a telescope or binoculars or other fancy equipment. Remember, the more sky you see the better.
6) Taking pictures of meteors is easy if you only have an inexpensive camera and a tripod. Set it up, point it anywhere you want - find a nice collection of bright stars if you prefer - and let it expose for a few minutes if you can. If you are lucky, you'll find a nice bright streak or two in some of the pictures. Meteors!
7) Got wireless? Then bring your mobile device outside with you and listen to the meteors, too! This is totally cool! son't miss it and 
Other Guides: 


Meteor counter app for iPhone

Meteor counter app for Android

Social media:

Twitter: Join in with the worldwide #meteorwatch

Video: Tonight's Sky

Of course, you must keep the idea of the beauty and the pedagogical watching of this marvelous summer falling stars shower.

"The Perseids are the highlight of the astronomical calendar and a must see! They are ideal for those who want to see a meteor/ shooting star for the first time."

Hoping to be lucky! I am preparing my garden chair, a soft sweet-shirt, may be a blanket, a little Pink Floyd music, The great gig in the sky, my Android, and some green hot tea to watch the falling stars from my high balcony near country.


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