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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks August 12



By Joe Rao
SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist
posted: 08 August 2008
06:51 am ET

Every August, just when many people go vacationing in the country where skies are dark, the best-known meteor shower makes its appearance.

It is also the month of "The Tears of St. Lawrence," more commonly known as the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Laurentius, a Christian deacon, is said to have been martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out:

"I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other."

The saint's death was commemorated on his feast day, Aug. 10. King Phillip II of Spain built his monastery place, the "Escorial," on the plan of the holy gridiron. And the abundance of shooting stars seen annually between approximately Aug. 8 and 14 have come to be known as St. Lawrence's "fiery tears."

Viewing prospects

In 2008, the Perseids are expected to reach their maximum on Aug. 12.

The exact time of maximum should be about 7:00 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT) Aug. 12, according to Margaret Campbell-Brown and Peter Brown in the 2008 Observer's Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. If so, the timing is very good for meteor watchers observing before dawn in North America, especially in the western states. And that morning, the waxing gibbous moon sets around 1:30 a.m. local daylight saving time, leaving a dark sky for the next 3 hours.

Take full advantage of that moonless period. Next year, a last quarter moon will illuminate the after-midnight sky with its light and will hinder observation of the Perseids.

Comet bits

We know today that these meteors are actually the dross of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Discovered back in 1862, this comet takes approximately 130 years to circle the sun. And in much the same way that the Tempel-Tuttle comet leaves a trail of debris along its orbit to produce the Leonid meteors of November, Comet Swift-Tuttle produces a similar debris trail along its orbit to cause the Perseids. Indeed, every year during mid-August, when the Earth passes close to the orbit of Swift-Tuttle, the material left behind by the comet from its previous visits rams into our atmosphere at approximately 37 miles (60 kilometers) per second and creates bright streaks of light in our midsummer night skies.

Comet Swift-Tuttle made its most recent appearance sixteen years ago, in December 1992. For several years before and after its 1992 return, the Perseids were a far more prolific shower, appearing to produce brief outbursts of as many as several hundred meteors per hour, many of which were dazzlingly bright and spectacular. The most likely reason was that the Perseids parent comet was itself passing through the inner solar system and that the streams of Perseid meteoroids in the comet's vicinity were larger and more thickly clumped together — hence the reason for the brighter meteors and much-higher-than-normal meteor rates.

But with the comet now far back out in space, Perseid activity has pretty much returned to normal.
I had some nice ones zoom over last year.

Looks okay for Ontario

on radar for viewing
Weather Toronto Ontario Radar Weather - Toronto ON NEXRAD Radar

Some in Europe reporting some biguns.
 

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No blue skies have been seen in St.John's since late July, so it shall have to wait until next year as no clearing is due anytime soon.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Too hazy and too tired :(
 

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Too much rain .............. but I was ready, willing and able. :(
 

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We saw a few on the 11th, but was too hazy last night. The Perseids are more than one day, so plenty of opportunities.
 

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I had to get up to let the dog out at about 4am, which would've been perfect (meteor showers are always best just before dawn, because the dawn side of the earth is the forward-facing side WRT the direction of travel in our orbit), but it was cloudy.

I stood around for a while hoping to see a break in the cloud cover but no luck.

Maybe next year.

Cheers
 

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Bryanc, same here. I was out at 520AM with my dog, but it was foggy. :(
 

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oh look...more rain....as if we need it!
 

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Might go outside tonight to see if there are any left. First clear night since late July.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Anyone near Guelph catch this??



Meteor 'Fireball' Caught on Video
By SPACE.com Staff

posted: 24 October 2008
04:11 pm ET

A team of astronomers has caught on video a fiery meteor as it fell toward Earth.

The meteor was spotted by the University of Western Ontario's network of all-sky cameras in southern Ontario that scan the sky for meteors. On Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 5:28 a.m. EDT (0928 GMT) seven of the cameras recorded a bright, slow fireball in the predawn sky.

The astronomers of the University of Western Ontario Meteor Group suspect the fireball broke apart and dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass.

Meteors are fallen debris from a comet or other space rock. As the debris enters the atmosphere, it heats up and produces the brilliant streaks of light we sometimes call shooting stars. Though most meteors are destroyed during this process, some make it to the ground and are known as meteorites.

"This event was a relatively slow fireball that made it far into the Earth's atmosphere," said Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral researcher in planetary science at Western. "Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometers (37 to 44 miles) from the ground."

He added, "This one was tracked by our all-sky camera network to have penetrated to an altitude of about 37 kilometers (23 miles) and it slowed down considerably, so there is a possibility that at least one and possibly several small meteorites made it to the ground."

By knowing the trajectory from the camera observations, the researchers can also track backwards to get the orbit of the object before it hit the Earth.

"The meteorite was on a typical Earth-crossing asteroid-type orbit, so we also expect that it is a stony-type meteorite," McCausland said.

In March, the network of all-sky cameras captured video of a meteor falling to Earth that may have crashed in the Parry Sound area of Ontario.
 

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Very cool.

Years ago when I was on my way to work on a dark winter morning I just happened to glance up and see a meteor skip across the upper reaches of the atmosphere, like a stone skipping on water, skip... skip... until it finally got dragged in and burned up. The whole thing was over in just a couple of seconds; highly memorable though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Neat - my best was an enormous earth grazer that passed in front of my kitchen window just above the treeline ( visually ) dripping green fire as it went.

Was reported all over the NorthEast states - I just happened to glance out as it went by. Apparently the green is ionized oxygen- it was big so did not go by very fast - passed visually at the speed an airliner goes by that is within a mile or so of you.

This colour



The image at the top of this page shows the fireball produced on 9 October 1992 by the Peekskill meteorite on its way to a collision with a parked car! (
:eek:
Cloudbait Observatory - Fireballs

Meteor appeared somewhat larger than the largest here - tail not as long but was late afternoon so not so obvious.

Have seen nothing even close since, day or night.
 

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I saw one of those fire dripping meteorites mid-90s.Most impressive.You almost expect to smell sulphur or gun powder as they pass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

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I shall again be outside in hopes of a clear night. We shall see. Paix, mon ami.
 
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