Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Moon and Perseid Meteors

The predawn hours of this coming Sunday night / Monday morning are the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Sunday also happens to be the time of the new moon, so the sky should be nice and dark here on Bonaire, which makes for good meteor observing.

Speaking of the predawn hours, people living in North America can see a nice total eclipse of the moon on the morning of August 28. Here on Bonaire, the moon will be setting in the west as it becomes completely eclipsed. If you live further West, the eclipse will take place earlier in the morning and the moon will be higher in the sky.

Here is some info. on the Perseid meteor shower that I've shamelessly copied from an email from Space dot com. During the predawn hours of August 13, make time to step outside and cast your eyes heavenward. The Perseid Meteor Shower should be at its peak. At an average of 60 mph (meteors per hour), you’ll be sure to catch a flash across the sky every minute or so, weather permitting. As you pan the early morning skies, you’ll observe white or bluish-white streaks of light, as the brighter Perseids enter the atmosphere at speeds up to 145,000 mph. Following their spectacular display, many of the meteors leave behind smoke trails that can linger for several seconds.

Over the years, I have occasionally set my alarm and gone out in the wee hours of the morning to see what I could see. Since Perseus is a constellation that is located in the northern part of the sky, the radiant of this meteor shower never gets all that high in the sky here on Bonaire. This reduces the number of meteors that one might see, and I must confess that there is a good chance I won't be out there this Sunday night, unless the sky is completely cloudless, and exceptionally transparent and haze free. On the rare nights when that happens, it is great to be out viewing the stars, meteors or no meteors.

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