Perseid Meteor Shower in the heavens Friday and Saturday

 

 

Perseid Meteor Shower in the heavens Friday and Saturday

KENNESAW, Ga. (Aug 12, 2016) — Excerpt of Article: The starry skies came alive with the beginning of the Perseid Meteor Shower last night, and the “shooting stars” can still be seen tonight and into Saturday morning.

An annual astrological event, the Perseid Meteor Shower occurs when Earth passes through the trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet, an ancient comet that orbits the sun about every 133 years, according to NASA.

Dr. David Joffe, assistant professor of physics at Kennesaw State University, explained that as the debris in the trail of the comet comes into contact with Earth’s atmosphere, the particles burn up, creating the bright meteors that we see from the ground.“Think of a comet as kind of a dirty snowball,” he said. “If you had a giant dirty snowball and it started to melt, some of that sand and gravel would kind of just fall off.”

Joffe explained that the particles are small, some even the size of a grain of sand, but because they are burning brightly, they can be seen from Earth.

These burning particles, or meteors, are called Perseids during this shower because they seem to come from the direction of the Perseus constellation, according to NASA’s website.

The meteors can be seen without a telescope, Joffe said, and in perfect viewing conditions, viewers could expect to see “a few hundred” meteors an hour.

This year, according to NASA, scientists are expecting an outburst of the meteor shower, meaning there will be almost double the usual number of meteors.

Earth typically passes through the edge of the trail, where there is less debris. Occasionally, however, Jupiter’s gravity pulls the trail of debris closer to Earth, and the planet pushes through the middle of the trail, meaning more meteors fall through the sky.

Of course, to see the celestial sights, it is important to have a clear sky, and according to Joffe, that may be difficult.

“This is always the issue for us in the Atlanta area,” he said.

A clear, uncloudy sky away from lights is the best place to see the shower, and Joffe said going to stargaze between midnight and dawn would be best.The National Weather Service reports that Friday night will be mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, and Saturday will see a 30 percent chance of storms with patchy fog before 9 a.m.

Despite the foggy weather, astronomy enthusiasts can still see the meteors on the live stream of the Perseids on NASA’s website, nasa.gov.

If stargazers attempt to watch through the clouds, however, NASA recommends allowing 45 minutes for their eyes to adjust and to lie back looking straight up at the sky.

The meteor shower is a global event and because meteors can be seen with the naked eye, Joffe said the Perseids’ appearance is one of the most popular astrological events of the year.

“It’s accessible to everyone, and you don’t need a big telescope to see it. You can just lie back and watch the show,” he said.

By Emily Selby Aug. 12, 2016

Name of Publication:
The Marietta Daily Journal

Link to Article:
http://www.mdjonline.com/news/perseid-meteor-shower-in-the-heavens-friday-and-sa...



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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