Video: ESA's meteor camera captures the Perseid showers

The Perseids meteor shower is one of the most spectacular annual meteor showers. Made of debris from comet Swift-Tuttle they have been observed by sky-watchers for thousands of years and this year the LIC1 camera of the Canary ...

'Great show' predicted for Perseid meteor peak on August 12–13

The Perseid meteor shower, an annual celestial event beloved by millions of skywatchers around the world, is about to make its annual return to the night sky. And thanks to a new Moon, there'll be no bright moonlight to hinder ...

Perseid meteors could see 'surge in activity' on Aug. 11-12

Friday 12 August sees the annual maximum of the Perseid meteor shower. This year, as well as the normal peak on the night of 12/13 August, meteor scientists are predicting additional enhanced activity in the shower the night ...

It's showtime for Perseid meteors

Dark skies due to a nearly invisible moon will make this year's Perseid meteor shower—peaking Wednesday and Thursday—an especially star-studded event, astronomers say.

Spectacular meteor shower set to light up UK skies

A spectacular display of hundreds of shooting stars are expected to be visible in the skies across parts of the UK late on Wednesday as the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.

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Perseids

The Perseids ( /ˈpɜrsiːɨdz/) are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides (Περσείδες), a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus. The stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it travels on its 130-year orbit. Most of the dust in the cloud today is around a thousand years old. However, there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that was pulled off the comet in 1862. The rate of meteors originating from this filament is much higher than for the older part of the stream.

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2000 years, with the earliest information on this meteor shower coming from the Far East. Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of St. Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom.

The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the peak in activity being between August 9 and 14, depending on the particular location of the stream. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. They can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle's orbit, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere. As with all meteor showers, the rate is greatest in the pre-dawn hours, since the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun scoops up more meteors as the Earth moves through space. In 2009, the estimated peak Zenithal Hourly Rate was 173, but fainter meteors were washed out by a waning gibbous moon.

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