Perseid Meteor Shower - 2009 Aug 10, 2009 1:46:09 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Aug 10, 2009 1:46:09 GMT -6
- 2009 Chicago Perseid Meteor Shower -
It's that time of year again for the annual Perseid meteor shower - and it's one of the major showers to observe. Leftovers from comet Swift-Tuttle, the Earth intersects particles cast off as the comet made it's way through our solar System.
Peak viewing occurs on Tuesday, August 11 and Wednesday, August, 12, 2009 -beginning at 9:30 PM or so, but better after midnight, when the Earth faces the shower head on. But earlier on in the night, (if lucky), one can catch a "Grazer" - a larger meteor that enters the atmosphere at a sharp angle and leaves a long trail.
(Courtesy Astronomy Magazine)
Face northeast and look for the source to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which is now rising....but meteors can occur any place in the sky and at any latitude. Only problem this year is that the Moon will interfere with sighting of the dimmer ones. I have witnessed some pretty bright ones, leaving a ionized trail as they vaporize.
No need for telescopes or binoculars...just use your eyes to spot them, even with the Moon interfering. I have had great observation sessions from back porches, roofs and industrial parks in Chicago - where ever I could grab a good wide sky. Of course, a darker sky out of the city is superior, but don't let this stop you from looking up.
I will set up by Meigs Field/Northerly Island at 10:30pm and try to image these, (if clear), and stay until...well, that's unknown at this point. Keep abreast if "go/no go" via my Tweets: www.twitter.com/astronomerjoe or use my Astro number: (773)299-8171. Chicago Astronomer members/readers are free to join in on the session...even if it's a work/school night.
Here is a pic I took last year, catching a single Perseid...
In Ye Olde times, the Perseids were known as "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."
Good for Larry I say...defiant to the end!