Perseid Meteor Shower 2021

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Six Hour Time Lapse Video Showing the Perseid Meteor Shower’s Radiant Point

The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event that occurs during the 2nd week in August as the Earth passes through the same debris field left behind by comet Swift–Tuttle. The Radiant Point is the imaginary point on the sky that they appear to emanate from and represents the path of the earth through the debris field.

This year the shower peaks with a rate of about 100 meteors per hour, today through tomorrow night, August 13. The moon is a waxing crescent tonight, setting when Perseus rises at 10:00 PM, EDT; you don’t need any equipment to observe the shower. Keeping track of the rate (date/time/location, etc.) is helpful in predicting how the debris field evolves over time and other astrophysical quantities.

Meteor showers occur as the Earth, in its orbit around the sun, plows through the debris field left behind by a passing comet. In the case of the Perseids, that comet was Swift-Tuttle, named in honor of Lewis Swift who co-discovered the comet on July 16, 1862 with Horace Parnell Tuttle on July 19, 1862, both independent observations.

Meteors are not “Shooting Stars” and except that they are made from the heavy elements synthesized in high-mass stars, they have nothing to do with stars. Meteoroids are the same objects drifting through space; meteors are the objects we see as they burn up in our atmosphere through frictional heating and meteorites are the few of them that actually make it to the ground.

Featured Image: 2018 Perseid Meteor shower

Image credit: NASA, 3 August, 2018

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