Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Perseids Are Back!

The annual Perseid meteor shower is upon us. Estimates are that up to 200 meteors per hour may be seen between 12am and 5am over the next couple of nights. Peak viewing times are the early morning hours of August 11 and August 12.
The meteors that we see are left over pieces of comet Swift-Tuttle when it last passed through the area of space that the Earth is currently passing through on its orbit around the sun. Most of the meteors are the size of a grain of sand and some are as big as a marble. Almost none of the meteors strike the ground. Instead, the harmlessly burn up in the atmosphere.
Some interesting facts about comet Swift-Tuttle, it's nucleus is nearly 6 miles (10km) in diameter. It makes one complete orbit around the sun every 130 years. It was discovered in 1862 and was last seen in 1992.

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