Perseid meteor shower tonight

The Perseid meteor shower is expected on Thursday night, when the earth passes through the debris of comet Swift Tuttle, with predictions of a shooting star every second at the peak of the celestial spectacle.

It is predicted that the earth will pass through the comet debris between August 11 and 13. As hundreds and thousands of small rocky fragments enter the Earth's atmosphere, they will burn up due to friction displaying brilliant and dazzling streaks of light, said D.P. Duari, Director, Research and Academics at the Birla Planetarium.

Astronomical fireworks

Every year, the earth passes through the dusty debris of the comet P-109/Swift Tuttle resulting in the “astronomical fireworks display” that is called the Perseid meteor shower, since it seems to have originated from the Perseus constellation, he said. “Those who want to witness the phenomenon will be able to observe the rising of the Perseus constellation in the north eastern horizon at around 10.30 p.m. on the night of August 12. If monsoon clouds do not play spoilsport, slow moving meteors with their brilliant colours streaking past the sky will be observed at around 11.00 p.m. onwards. As the night progresses the meteor speeds will be much faster,” he added.

The number is expected to rise and if the forecast timings are accurate, may peak around the early hours of August 13, numbering between 60 and a 100 per hour. By this time the meteors will be much faster and of shorter duration, Dr. Duari predicted.

The absence of the moon will be a bonus for people waiting to observe this beautiful phenomenon. Comet Swift-Tuttle, discovered in 1862, passes through the inner solar system every 130 years and leaves a trail of debris. It came close to the sun last in 1992, and is currently at the outer periphery of our planetary system. It is perfectly safe to observe the shower with the naked eye, Dr. Duari said.

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