Table showing how many meteors will be seen per hour.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA
Watch Out for the Meteors!
News story originally written on August 10, 1999
This week's solar eclipse isn't the only thing to watch! The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak on August 12-13, 1999. There could be as many as 150 "shooting stars" per hour. Scientists say the best time to see this spectacular event is a few hours before dawn. However, the meteors should be visible all night long, starting at dusk.
These brilliant flashes of light will seem to originate from the constellation Perseus. It is best to lay down on the ground and face north to see the shower. Although they appear to come from the same point in space, they will be visible all over the sky.
Meteors are small fragments that broke off a comet. This particular shower came from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun once every 135 years. Swift-Tuttle will not be visible from Earth until 2126. Fortunately, we have this great shower every year in August!
Typical meteors are the size of a grain of sand. They make up for their size with their speed. These meteors average 130,000 miles per hour! But don't worry, the particles burn up long before they reach Earth. A particle's high speed causes a large amount of friction between the meteor and Earth's atmosphere. The result is a burned up meteor!
The shower will be visible for most of the Northern Hemisphere. If you live below the equator, I'm afraid that very little, if any at all, will be seen. Fortunately, NASA will provide a live broadcast of the event on the web. They'll fly a balloon into the stratosphere with a video camera. So, no matter where you live, you can witness one of the more fascinating astronomical events!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
The last solar eclipse of this millennium occurred on August 11, 1999. Amateurs and professionals alike used this opportunity to witness one of the most brilliant natural phenomenon. This was a total...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more
During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more