Share it! Science : Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower!


The next few nights will be the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, one of the best to view with kids as the warm summer weather makes night viewing a more comfortable experience. The peak dates for the shower this year (2015) are August 11th-14th, although you may see meteors throughout the month of August. The best viewing will be late at night into the early morning hours, but there is always a chance to see a meteor earlier in the evening as well. The key is to find a spot that is free of light pollution and being patient!

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What is a meteor shower? Meteors, or shooting stars as we sometimes call them, are bits of debris from space that burn up in the Earth's atmosphere creating a streak across the sky. Meteor showers are named after the part of the sky they seem to be coming from. During the Perseid meteor shower the meteors appear to be originating from the constellation Perseus. The Perseid meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle.

If you're not too confident with your astronomy skills, or you would like to get kids interested in astronomy and star gazing there are many great resources and tools to do so. I have mentioned some of these in the past, but they are worth another nod. If you want to explore the night sky before heading outside you should check Stellarium, a free planetarium software program. You can also use a printable star wheel like this one to help orient yourself.

Three of my favorite books for sharing the night sky with children and learning more myself are Chet Raymo's 365 Starry Nights : An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year, H.A. Rey's The Stars and H.A. Rey's Find the Constellations

 



If you'd like to go high tech another excellent tool for orienting yourself to the night sky is Google's Sky Map app. With the app you simply hold your phone or device up toward the sky and it shows what you should be seeing in that location. However, I'd urge you to turn off your gadgets once you know what you're looking at and just enjoy!

If you like astronomy topics you might want to read my other posts that involve the sky and beyond by following this link.

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