This week, stargazers will see a display of cosmic light as Earth passes through the debris left by a comet.
Up to six random “sporadic” meteors are visible every hour throughout the year, but during a shower the Earth passes through a cloud of debris left by comets, and many more meteors are seen entering the atmosphere.
Perseid “is considered the best meteor shower of the year,” according to NASA, and is a great opportunity to wish on a shooting star.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the Perseid meteor shower?
NASA says: “With fast, bright meteors, the Perseids often leave long ‘carpets’ of light and color behind them as they travel through Earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids are one of the most abundant showers with about 50 to 100 meteors seen per hour.They occur in warm summer night weather that allows sky watchers to see them comfortably.
“The Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor shower. This is because fireballs originate from from larger particles of cometary material. The fireballs are also brighter, with apparent magnitudes greater than -3”.
He adds: “Meteorites come from leftover comet particles and broken pieces of asteroids. When comets orbit the Sun, they leave a trail of dust behind them. Each year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allow let the pieces collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate to create streaks of fire and color in the sky.”
When is the Perseid meteor shower coming?
The rain lasts more than a moth, but its peak will be on the 12th and 13th of August. The best time to see them is between midnight and 5.30am, but they can be seen from any time after sunset.
The Royal Greenwich Museum says: “In 2022 the Perseid meteor shower is active between July 17 and August 24, with the number of meteors increasing each night until reaching a peak in mid-August, after which it will fade. This year the peak falls on the night of the 12th and before dawn on the 13th of August.
“This year, unfortunately, the peak falls around the time of the full moon, so light conditions will be particularly bad. When observing meteors, the darker the sky, the better.”
NASA viewing tips say: “The Perseids are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, although it is sometimes possible to see meteors from this shower as late as 10:00 p.m.” .
Can I photograph the Perseid meteor shower?
If you want to capture meteors on camera, Pixsy has put together a beginner’s guide to astrophotography here, including the following tips:
- Choose a higher ISO, between 1600 and 6400 – this means the camera is more sensitive to light. The exact ISO you should use will vary between cameras and conditions, so experiment by taking a set of photos and increasing the ISO each time to determine which gives you the best results.
- Grab a tripod – Typical exposure times for astrophotography can vary, usually between 5 and 30 seconds, and the camera must remain completely still the entire time to get the sharpest image.
- Use a large aperture – if you can adjust the camera aperture, look for a large setting (between ƒ/2.8 and ƒ/4). This helps maximize the amount of light entering the camera lens.
Tips for getting the best view
In ideal cloud-free conditions, observers could see up to 50 per hour, according to the Royal Astronomical Society.
The meteor shower is often called the best show of the year because of its brightness and activity.
Although the meteors seem to emanate from the constellation Perseus, they can appear anywhere in the sky, so try to find a place with the widest possible view of the sky, ideally an area without tall buildings or trees, where you can see around. horizon You will need it to be a clear night.
Light pollution can also be a problem, so the further into the countryside you are, the better. If you find yourself confined to an area with street lights, looking away from them can help.
You should give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the dark, as this will help you see the fainter meteors. Try to avoid looking at your phone for best results.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate and visibility is poor, you can always watch a live stream of the shower via Nasa Meteor watch on Facebook.
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