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PostSubject: PERSEID METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT!!! (12th & 13th)   Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:18 am

Last night I laid on the roof with my two boys, (Two convinced me to take them up while the girls were down the street watching for shooting stars. Altogether, we saw several large meteors...It was AWESOME, but according to, it doesn't peak until the 12th, so you have plenty of time to get out there and watch one of the most magical and wonderous sights our planet has to offer!


PERSEID FIREBALLS: The Perseid meteor shower is underway. Don't panic, the peak doesn't occur until August 12th and 13th, but already 10+ shooting stars per hour may be seen during the dark hours before dawn. On August 9th, Thomas O'Brien caught this green fireball streaking over the mountains near Aspen, Colorado:

"I saw lots of green and yellow meteors," he says. Why the colors? Yellow can be a sign of sodium-rich meteoroids; hot sodium vapors glow yellow like a sodium discharge lamp. Green may be due to oxygen--not in the meteoroid but in Earth's atmosphere. When a meteoroid rips through the atmosphere, air in its path becomes so hot that oxygen molecules briefly lose one of their electrons. They recombine (e- + O2+) very rapidly, emitting green photons as a side-effect. A similar process is responsible for the green colors of many auroras.

Sky watchers, be alert for colorful Perseids in the nights ahead.
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PostSubject: Re: PERSEID METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT!!! (12th & 13th)   Sat Aug 11, 2007 10:23 am

July 11, 2007: 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.

Above: A Perseid fireball photographed August 12, 2006, by Pierre Martin of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada.

The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is nowhere near Earth, the comet's tail does intersect Earth's orbit. We glide through it every year in August. Tiny bits of comet dust hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light--a meteor--when it disintegrates. Because Swift-Tuttle's meteors fly out of the constellation Perseus, they are called "Perseids."

Note: In the narrative that follows, all times are local. For instance, 9:00 pm means 9:00 pm in your time zone, where you live.

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The show begins between 9:00 and 10:00 pm on Sunday, August 12th, when Perseus rises in the northeast. This is the time to look for Perseid Earthgrazers--meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping the surface of a pond.

"Earthgrazers are long, slow and colorful; they are among the most beautiful of meteors," says Cooke. He cautions that an hour of watching may net only a few of these--"at most"--but seeing even one makes the long night worthwhile.

As the night unfolds, Perseus climbs higher and the meteor rate will increase many-fold. "By 2 am on Monday morning, August 13th, dozens of Perseids may be flitting across the sky every hour." The crescendo comes before dawn when rates could exceed a meteor a minute.

For maximum effect, Cooke advises, "get away from city lights." The brightest Perseids can be seen from cities, he allows, but the greater flurry of faint, delicate meteors is visible only from the countryside. Scouts, this is a good time to go camping.

And there's a bonus: Mars. In the constellation Taurus, just below Perseus, Mars shines like a bright red star. Many of the Perseids you see on August 12th and 13th will flit right past it. Instead of following the meteor, you may find you have a hard time taking your eyes off Mars. There's something bewitching about it, maybe the red color or perhaps the fact that it doesn't twinkle like a true star. You stare at Mars and it stares right back.

Earth and Mars are converging for a close encounter in December 2007. NASA is taking advantage by launching a new mission to Mars--the Phoenix Lander. Phoenix will touch down on an arctic plain where it can dig into the ground and investigate layers of soil and ice, searching for, among other things, a habitable zone for primitive microbes. The launch window opens on August 3rd, so by the time the Perseids arrive Phoenix may be hurtling toward the Red Planet. Landing: late Spring 2008.

It's something to think about at four in the morning, with Mars rising in the east, meteors flitting across the sky, and a summer breeze rustling the legs of your pajamas.

Maybe you should go circle your calendar again.
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PostSubject: Re: PERSEID METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT!!! (12th & 13th)   Sat Aug 11, 2007 3:56 pm

Thank you BTM. I am so glad you reminded us of this. I try never to miss the Meteor showers, but this one slipped by me. I will watch :star:
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PostSubject: Re: PERSEID METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT!!! (12th & 13th)   Sat Aug 11, 2007 4:52 pm

Yes, well, I AM still waiting to be I always hope there's a UFO around there somewhere waiting to take me to destination points unknown....

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