I had some nice ones zoom over last year.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."
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.
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.
Looks okay for Ontario
on radar for viewing
Weather Toronto Ontario Radar Weather - Toronto ON NEXRAD Radar
Some in Europe reporting some biguns.