Friday, 10. August 2007
Get Ready for the 2007 Perseids!

And don't forget: Make a wish on a shooting star!

Got a calendar? Circle this date: Sunday, August 12th. Next to the circle write "all night" and "Meteors!" Attach the above to your refrigerator in plain view so you won't miss the 2007 Perseid meteor shower.

"It's going to be a great show," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "The Moon is new on August 12th--which means no moonlight, dark skies and plenty of meteors." How many? Cooke estimates one or two Perseids per minute at the shower's peak.

Great Perseids by NASA.

The eastern sky, viewed during the hours before sunrise on Monday, Aug. 13, 2007.

The Perseids are one of the oldest meteor showers that mankind has records for. The earliest observations of this shower were made by the Chinese in 36 A.D. when the Perseids peaked, not in August as they do today, but on July 17. Because the path of the shower is highly inclined to the ecliptic (the plane in which the Earth and all of the other planets orbit the Sun), the Perseids have not been affected by the disturbing gravitational influences of our major planets, and as a result, are a reliable meteor shower. From 714 A.D. until the present year, the Perseids have been recorded every year.

Get Ready for the 2007 Perseids! by Night Sky Info.

A dazzling Perseid meteor burns up over Stromboli,
a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily.
Photo: M. Mihelcic/T. Fabjan

There are other, weaker meteor showers going on around the same time as the Perseids, but the Perseids will generally appear to move much faster across the sky than meteors from the other showers. In fact, the Perseids are among the fastest moving meteors we see every year.

Observing the Perseids from Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers page.

Photo by Chuck Hunt, near Mansfield, Ohio on August 12, 2006.

Every August, 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."
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."

Viewer's Guide: Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Aug. 12 by

Also by

Top 10 Perseid Meteor Shower Facts

2006 Perseid Meteor Shower Gallery
2005 Perseid Meteor Shower Gallery
2004 Perseid Meteor Shower Gallery

A meteor shower is a spectacular sight to see, but what exactly causes it? Though often referred to as a shooting star, a meteor is not a star at all. Meteors are actually fallen debris from a comet.
All About Meteors

And MSNBC's interactive:
What causes meteor showers? - Find out where sky displays come from.
Category: Astrology & Astronomy | Events & Meetings |

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