Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watch the skies this Wednesday night for a free show

I love shooting stars.

It's one of the great things about camping in Oman, especially in the Wahibas, because the sky is so dark not only are there lots of fantastic stars, but you can always count on seeing the occasional meteor.

But this Wednesday night should be extra good, as the Earth is passing through a patch of comet debris (the comet is called Swift-Tuttle). Unfortunately the moon will interfere somewhat with the spectacle, but still worth watching out for.

Full story in BBC News.

Skywatchers set for meteor shower.

Skygazers are getting ready to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on Wednesday.

The Perseid shower occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. As this cometary "grit" strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, often creating streaks of light across the sky. This impressive spectacle appears to originate from a point called a "radiant" in the constellation of Perseus - hence the name Perseid.

"Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on 12 August. Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour," said Bill Cooke of Nasa's meteoroid environment office.

No special equipment is required to watch the sky show. Astronomers say binoculars might help, but will also restrict the view to a small part of the sky.

The Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, but their tails all point back to the radiant in the constellation Perseus.

In the UK, the best times to see the Perseids are likely to be on the morning of 12 August before dawn and from late evening on the 12th through to the early hours of the 13 August. This year, light from the last quarter Moon will interfere significantly with the view.

The rock and dust fragments which cause the shower were left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle when it last came near the Sun. The comet orbits the Sun once every 130 years and last swept through the inner Solar System in 1992.


  1. Gr8 ! Thanks for the info, will look skywards this wednesday .

  2. Many thanks for that UD.

    By my reckoning (based on a full moon about 4-5 days ago?) the moon shouldn't rise till around 10pm, so the best time to watch the sky should be from 7 till 10.


  3. UD-DoubleOO- Thanks for the 'heads up.'

  4. Bummer- very cloudy in Sohar last night, so could not see meteor shower. Even drove up into mountains behind Sohar, but could not get above clouds. Oh well, maybe nexr year.


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