Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Education & science : Catching the Falling Stars, the Perseids

credit: Jimmy Westlake

Well, just few days to my summer break. But I couldn't miss the falling stars.

So here I am writing a new post about the Perseids this August 12-13, 2015.

Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3.

A good number of meteors have beeen visible near Perseus every night from late JuneJuly through August 24. However, you'll see fewer meteors before and after the peak. 

Look towards the familiar constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeast. They rise soon after sunset, but you'll want to wait til they are higher in the sky to see the most meteors. 

The best meteor watching hour is 4 a.m. Eastern or 1 a.m. Pacific time on the morning of August 13, when up to 100 meteors per hour may be visible from a dark sky.

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".

According to scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this year's Perseids display could spawn up to 100 meteors per hour under the most optimum observing conditions (clear dark skies well away from any intereference from city lights). 

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

The Perseid meteor shower happens every August. 
The Earth plows into debris left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed close to Earth in 1992.

The Perseid meteor shower occurs annually when debris left behind from the comet Swift-Tuttle ignites in the Earth’satmosphere.The material comes off the comet and forms a tail and stays in space, Every year the Earth passes through the debris from the comet and forms shootings stars, or meteors.

With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long "wakes" of light and color behind them as they streak through the Earth's atmosphere. 

The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen per hour) and occurs with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view the shower.

credits : science@NASA

Where Do Meteors Come From?

Meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids. When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them. Every year the Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.

When happens in 2015:

The annual Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak early next Wenesday, August 12 and 13 2015, 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.

The best meteor shower of the year will light up the night skies tonight, and a dimmer moon means it will be more visible than in recent years. 

“So the sky will be good and dark, and it will be much easier to see meteors because of that.” 

To view the Perseids, look up and try to find the constellation Perseus, the shower’s radiant.

The best meteor watching hour is 4 a.m. Eastern or 1 a.m. Pacific time on the morning of August 13, when up to 100 meteors per hour may be visible from a dark sky.


This year’s Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12th and 13th,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.  “The Moon will be nearly new, setting the stage for a great display.”

Of course most of us are enjoying summer break, teachers and students. But students can watch this exciting event of the summer with family or at summers camps.

Sciences teachers can snap some amazing videos or photos to explain the Perseid show in a lesson, after school summer holiday... if  they are lucky.

Last year, I shared an interesting guide written by Phil Plait with a little adaption). Please find it on my Perseids post 2014 here

What to do?

Some teachers are in touch with students via Facebook, Twitter, Google + even educational blogs, or school email accounts.

  • Ask students to snap some shots or videos with their smartphones, tablets, to explore in Sciences curriculum next school year, not so far from some of you.
  • Invite the students to join some skywatchers at national observatories of Astronomy, or go out with family observing the Perseids shower August 12, 2015.


You will find excellent videos on NASA website and BBC Science : Perseids: Meteor light show set to dazzle



Meteor counter app for Android

Social media:

Twitter: Join in with the worldwide #meteorwatch

credits: Andrew Hawkes 
at Grimwith Reservoir, Yorkshire Dales, 2015

Some night sky enthusiasts have already reported Perseid sightings, but the meteor shower is expected to peak overnight Wenesday 12, 2015. For most people, meteor showers are best viewed with the naked eye. Experts advise finding a dark location away from artificial light and an unobstructed view of the sky.
Reclining chairs or blankets are best for looking up at the sky in comfort.

Hope you will enjoy to be a skywatcher tonight, August 12th admiring the beauty of this awesome event.

The following night the planets should be visible as well - their positions will just be slightly different.

Hope I get lucky too!


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