Popular Science News | Perseid Meteors

Popular Science News – the annual Perseid meteors are set to put on a spectacular sky show this weekend so tonight is your last chance to stare towards the north-east sky and wish you had a high-powered rifle to shoot out street lights. Light pollution also comes in the form of the glare from a waning crescent moon.

The Perseids remain one of the most popular events in the astronomical calendar, with meteor rates expected to reach as many as 100 per hour, although recent viewing has been nowhere near that number.

The Perseids are actually pieces of Comet Swift-Tuttle; each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris. These tiny pieces of ice and dust range from the size of a grain of sand to around as big as a pea and when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere at 60km/s (134,000 mph) their disintegration produces a night sky spectacular.

“December’s Geminids often outperform them by a bit,” said Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, “but the Perseids are probably the most-watched meteor shower, because they come in the warm vacation season.”

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