Tag: meteor shower

Top 5 Perseid Meteor Shower Facts

Photo Credit: NASA/MSFC/D. Moser, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office

Every August, the night sky is peppered with little bits of comet debris in what we call the annual Perseid meteor shower.

In 2018, the Perseids will peak on Aug. 12 (best showing the nights of Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 12-13), with 60-70 meteors per hour possible for observers with clear, dark skies, according to NASA.

The Perseids are bits of the comet Swift-Tuttle and often create the most amazing meteor shower of the year, although this year its splendor will be dampened slightly by a bright moon.




Largest Object

Comet Swift-Tuttle, whose debris creates the Perseids, is the largest object known to make repeated passes near Earth. Its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) across, roughly equal to the object that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Near-miss Coming?

Back in the early 1990s, astronomer Brian Marsden calculated that Swift-Tuttle might actually hit Earth on a future pass. More observations quickly eliminated all possibility of a collision.

Marsden found, however, that the comet and Earth might experience a cosmic near miss (about a million miles) in 3044.

Heated Air

When a Perseid particle enters the atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it, which heats up. The meteor, in turn, can be heated to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 Celsius).

The intense heat vaporizes most meteors, creating what we call shooting stars. Most become visible at around 60 miles up (97 kilometers).

Some large meteors splatter, causing a brighter flash called a fireball, and sometimes an explosion that can often be heard from the ground.

Lots of Comets

Comet Swift-Tuttle has many comet kin. Most originate in the distant Oort cloud, which extends nearly halfway to the next star. The vast majority never visit the inner solar system.

But a few, like Swift-Tuttle, have been gravitationally booted onto new trajectories, possibly by the gravity of a passing star long ago.

Many Streams

Perseid meteoroids are anywhere from 60 to 100 miles apart, even at the densest part of the river of debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle.

That river, in fact, is more like many streams, each deposited during a different pass of the comet on its 130-year orbit around the Sun.

The material drifts through space and, in fact, orbits the Sun on roughly the same path as the comet while also spreading out over time.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Meteor, Comet Or Asteroid? How To Tell Them Apart.

Here’s how to tell a meteor from an asteroid from a comet.

Meteoroid: A small rocky or metal object, usually between the size of a grain of sand or a boulder, that orbits the sun. It originates from a comet or asteroid.

Meteor: A meteoroid that enters the earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes. Also called a “shooting star.”




Meteorite: A meteor that hits earth without burning up in the atmosphere.

Meteor shower: A collection of meteors visible when earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet.

Asteroid: An object larger than a meteoroid that orbits the sun and is made of rock or metal. Historically, objects larger than 10 meters across have been called asteroids; smaller than that they’ve been called meteoroids.

Comet: A body of ice, rock and dust that can be several miles in diameter and orbits the sun. Debris from comets is the source of many meteoroids.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Where, When, And How To Perfectly Watch This Week’s Meteor shower

One of the last meteor showers of the year is happening this Friday. So, if you haven’t caught a meteor shower yet this year, this week is your chance.

Don’t miss out on this year’s Leonid meteor shower, which is expected to have ideal conditions for many parts of the US. Following is a transcript of the video.

The Leonid meteor shower is happening this week. The most meteors will happen on the evening of Nov. 17. Expect to see between 10-20 meteors an hour. Viewing conditions will be excellent this year.




The Moon will be a paper-thin crescent. So, the night sky will be especially dark to enjoy the show.

But watch out for the weather. Cloudy skies will cover some parts of the US. Here are the best and worst places to watch on Nov. 17.

Some of the first records of the Leonids date back to the 10th century. They’re famous for some of the most spectacular meteor showers.

In the past, the Leonids have produced 50,000 meteors per hour. For the best show, find a safe, dark place away from city lights.

Many meteors will appear to come from the constellation Leo. But experts advise looking away from Leo.

That way, you’ll spot the meteors with the longest tails. Happy meteor hunting!

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science

Take A Look At Our Cosmic Neighborhood

Due to the protective shielding of dangerous Galactic Cosmic Rays provided by a heliosphere or astrosphere, these structures are important for the planets that orbit the respective stars.

Only over the last 15 years, we have been able to detect the first astrospheres and planets around other stars (exoplanets). Graphic of the most immediate environment around the Sun, our cosmic neighborhood.




The locations of known astrospheres and exoplanets are indicated, while we anticipate that many more are present and just awaiting discovery.

The nearest star, alpha Centauri has an astrosphere, and we know of at least two cases where we have detected both an astrosphere and exoplanets.

These systems are truly analogous to our system in which the heliosphere shields a diverse planetary system.

Please like, share and tweet this article.

Pass it on: Popular Science