Monday, August 7, 2023

Best Meteor Shower of Year This-Coming Weekend !


The vast majority of meteors that are visible during meteor showers are usually quite small, even though they often make a bright spectacle when entering Earth's atmosphere. However, some meteors which actually land on Earth, sometimes creating a crater, can be quite large. The above photograph shows the fifth largest fragment of the meteorite which created Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona, on public display near the entrance to the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center. Owned by the City of Pittsburgh, this meteorite was originally acquired for, and displayed at, the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science and technology museum from 1939 to 1991.

More Information: Link >>>

(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss' History of Buhl Planetarium Internet Web-site)

 By Glenn A. Walsh

Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower, which peaks late this-coming weekend, is considered the best Meteor Shower of the year by NASA and most astronomers. Meteor sightings should be optimum this year, as the peak of this Meteor Shower comes three days before the New Moon lunar phase.

Astronomically, the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower comes this year during the late-night and early-morning hours of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 2023 August 11, 12, and 13. Technically, the actual peak is predicted to occur on Sunday, 2023 August 13 at 3:58 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 7:58 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

The best time to watch most Meteor Showers, including this year's Perseids, is always between local midnight and dawn, when the Earth is rotating into the Meteor Shower. So, the best time to view this year's Perseid Meteor Shower is late Friday night through early Sunday morning.

At the peak-time, sometimes up-to 50-to-100 Meteors could possibly be seen per-hour, if observing conditions are ideal. Depending on your location (including elevation and number of obstructions to sky viewing, such as hills, trees, and buildings), weather conditions, Moon phase, and the condition of your eye-sight, seeing 40-to-60 Meteors per-hour would be more likely.

As most Meteors are often dim, it is best to view a Meteor Shower away from city lights, which cause a brightening of the sky at night, and hence, the dimmest Meteors are often missed. And, you want to go out ahead of time, before you start actual viewing of Meteors, to get your eyes accustomed to the dark sky. Dark-adapting your eyes for Meteor watching could take up-to one half-hour.

Also, after your eyes are dark-adapted, do not look at your cellular telephone while looking for Meteors. The light you see from your telephone could disrupt your dark-adapted night-vision.

For the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower this year, the Moon will be just three days from the Primary Moon Phase of New Moon. What little of the Moon, that will be visible in the sky, will be a slender, Waning Crescent Phase Moon. Hence, the dimmer Meteors may be a little easier to find in a sky that is not brightened by much Moon-light.

The Primary Lunar Phase of New Moon (Lunation #1245) will occur on Wednesday, 2023 August 16 at 5:38 a.m. EDT / 9:38 UTC. In years when the Moon-light is brighter than it will be this year, try not to look directly at the Moon, so it does not hinder your dark-adapted eye-sight.

Actually, some Meteors from the Perseid Meteor Shower can be seen as early as mid-July and as late as late August (~July 17 to August 24); but they are few and far-between. Most Perseid Meteors can be seen three-to-five days before and three-to-five days after the peak time, which is considered, approximately, between August 9 and 14 each year; again, the absolute peak is August 11 to 13.

Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere are fortunate that the Perseid Meteor Shower arrives during the Summer month of August, when temperatures are comfortable for night-time viewing. However, some locations (such as in the mountains) could be cooler in the early-morning hours. So, be sure to check your local weather forecast (with NOAA Weather-Radio, local forecasts on radio, television or local newspapers, Internet, or your smart-telephone or smart-speaker) and bring a sweater and / or jacket with you if your location has a cooler weather forecast.

Be aware that sometimes August can be very humid with poor seeing conditions. And, the closer to the horizon, the worse the seeing conditions could be.

Binoculars and telescopes are not very useful for finding Meteors. Meteors streak across the sky in a very brief period of time, too short to aim binoculars or a telescope. So, the best way to view a Meteor Shower is to lie on the ground (perhaps on a blanket, sheet, or beach-towel—or possibly in a reclining beach or lawn-chair), in an area with a good view of the entire sky (with few obstructions such as buildings, trees, or hills, perhaps at a higher elevation), and keep scanning the entire sky with your naked-eyes (one-power).

Meteor Showers appear to emanate from a Radiant point in the sky. For the Perseid Meteor Shower, the Radiant appears to be within the Constellation Perseus, named for the hero of Greek mythology (hence, the name Perseid Meteor Shower). However, you should not, necessarily, be looking only at Perseus, when looking for Meteors in this Shower.

Meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time. In fact, looking towards Perseus may not result in finding the best Meteors. Meteors coming from the Apparent Radiant may be seen for a shorter time in the sky, with much shorter sky streaks.

A Meteor Shower normally consists of dust particles related to a Comet. Each time a Comet approaches the Sun, the Comet loses dust particles following the melting of ice on the Comet. These dust particles, called Meteoroids, continue to follow the same orbit as the Comet and form a Meteoroid stream. Each year, as the Earth orbits the Sun, the Earth passes through several of these Meteoroid streams, becoming Earth's Meteor Showers.

The Earth's gravity then attracts many of these Meteoroids to fall to Earth, and they are viewed by people as Meteors, as they burn-up, mostly but not always, high in the atmosphere. Most are extremely small and burn-up completely. From time-to-time, larger particles enter the Atmosphere and create brilliant displays known as Fire-balls or Bolides. If these particles are large enough, they may not completely burn-up and land on Earth as a Meteorite, perhaps even creating a crater on Earth if the Meteorite is large and heavy enough.

Many museums and science centers display Meteorites to the general public. From 1939 to 1991, the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center - Pittsburgh's science and technology museum from 1939 to 1991) displayed the fifth largest fragment of the Meteorite that formed Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. Owned by the City of Pittsburgh, this large Meteorite is now displayed on the second floor of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center, outside the entrance to the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium. Meteorites are also on display in the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Meteors can be seen any night of the year, although they are not predictable and are rare outside of one of the annual Meteor Showers. The vast majority of Meteors that can be seen during the Perseid Meteor Shower originate from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has an orbital period of 133 years, leaving behind a trail of dust and grit. Comet Swift-Tuttle was discovered in 1862 and last returned for Earth viewing in 1992.

Comet Swift-Tuttle measures about 16 statute miles / 25 kilometers across, much larger than the object that is thought to have fallen to Earth which resulted in the extinction of the Dinosaurs (about 6 statute miles / 10 kilometers across) approximately 66 million years ago (after the Dinosaurs had lived on Earth for about 165 million years!).

Comet Swift-Tuttle will make a very close approach to the Earth in the year A.D. 4479. Scientists are now studying whether some day Comet Swift-Tuttle could impact the Earth. Comet Swift–Tuttle has been described as "the single most dangerous object known to humanity".

There are two additional Meteor Showers, which both peaked at the end of July, with some Meteors still visible in mid-August.

The Southern Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower peaked at 1:00 p.m. EDT / 17:00 UTC on Saturday, 2023 July 29; these Meteors are visible each year between July 12 and August 23. It is not certain which Comet originated the Southern Delta Aquariids. This is considered a strong Meteor Shower, with 15-to-20 Meteors visible per-hour, around the peak of Shower; fewer would now be visible per-hour.

The evening of 2023 July 29 / early-morning of July 30 saw the peak of the Alpha Capracornid Meteor Shower. The official peak occurred around 10:00 a.m. EDT / 14:00 UTC on Sunday, 2023 July 30. At the peak time, 5 Meteors per-hour are expected, making the Alpha Capracornids a minor Meteor Shower; of course, now there would be fewer Alpha Capracornids visible per-hour. The Alpha Capracornids, which originated as remnants of Comet 169P / NEAT, are visible each year from July 3 to August 15.

Another minor Meteor Shower may be visible to some between August 28 and September 5 each year; the peak is expected August 31 / September 1. The peak for this Meteor Shower is about 11:00 a.m. EDT / 15:00 UTC on Friday, 2023 September 1. The Aurigid Meteor Shower is believed to have originated as remnants of Comet Kless (C / 1911 N1). Astronomers do not know the composition of this Meteoric debris. So, it is uncertain how the Meteors from this Shower may interact with the Earth's atmosphere, and hence, scientists are unsure how visible this Shower may be each year.

So in mid-August, the time for viewing is right. And, of course, with the warm weather most of us experience in the Northern Hemisphere, this time of year, what could be better for viewing Meteors?

Of course, Meteor Showers, like all celestial observations, are weather-permitting. Even a few clouds could obscure quite a few Meteors.

If the weather in your area does not permit direct viewing of this Meteor Shower outdoors, it is possible (but not guaranteed) you may be able to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, Lycos, or your favorite Internet search engine to find special, Live-stream Web-casts of the Meteor Shower at one or more sites on the Internet.

A cautionary note for those who find it necessary to watch the Meteor Shower on the Internet. The video camera, used for each Live-stream Web-cast, can only aim at one part of the sky at a time. Hence, do not expect to see as many Meteors as you might see with your own eyes outside. Outdoors, you can easily scan the entire sky for Meteors, while a camera aimed at one area of the sky will only be able to see the Meteors that enter that particular field-of-view.

Internet Links  to Additional Information ----

Perseid Meteor Shower: Link >>>

Comet Swift-Tuttle: Link >>>

Constellation Perseus: Link >>>

South Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower:

Link >>> 

Alpha Capracornid Meteor Shower: Link >>> 

Aurigid Meteor Shower:

Link 1 >>> 

Link 2 >>>

Meteor Shower: Link >>>

Meteor: Link >>>

Meteoroid: Link >>>

Meteorite: Link >>>

Fifth largest fragment of the meteorite which struck Barringer Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona, which was displayed (1939 to 1991) at the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science and technology museum from 1939 to 1991. Today, this meteorite is displayed on the second floor of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center, next to the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium:
Link >>>

Related Blog-Posts ---

"Active Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Fri., Sat." Mon., 2022 Aug. 8.

Link >>>


"Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Wed., Thur." Mon., 2021 Aug. 9.

Link >>>


"Annual Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tue. Night / Early Wed. Morning." Mon., 2020 Aug. 10.

Link >>> 

"Tonight's 'Meteor Outburst' w/Web-Casts: 150 Years After Comet-Meteor Shower Link Found." Thur., 2016 Aug. 11.

Link >>>


"Great Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Wed. Night w/ Web-Casts." Wed., 2015 Aug. 12.

Link >>>


"Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks in Sky & Web-Casts." Tue., 2014 Aug. 12.

Link >>>


"Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Sun., Mon. Nights." Sat., 2013 Aug. 10.

Link >>>

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss          

               Monday, 2023 August 7.

                             Like This Post?  Please Share!

           More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>>

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>>

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < >.


Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator & Communicator                                                               (For more than 50 years! - Since Monday Morning, 1972 June 12):
Link >>>
Electronic Mail: < >
Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: Link >>>
SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: Link >>>
Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), America's fifth major planetarium and Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, the fourth of only five libraries where both construction and endowment funded by famous industrialist & philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>>  Buhl Observatory: Link >>>
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>>
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>>
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>>

 * Other Walsh-Authored Blog & Web-Sites: Link >>>


1 comment: