Observing the Perseids meteor shower

Observing the Perseids meteor shower

Tomorrow evening, the night between 12 and 13 August, the Perseids return, one of the most famous and prolific meteor showers of the starry sky.

This meteor shower originates from the debris of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The latter is a periodic comet that is part of the same family as Halley’s comet, has a period of about 133 years, and its last perihelion occurred in 1992, while the next will be in 2126. It was thanks to the perihelion of 1862 that the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli discovered the association between comets and meteor showers. In fact, meteor showers occur when the Earth, in its orbit, crosses the remains of dust and rock from comets. The fragments, entering at great speed in our atmosphere, are incinerated giving rise to falling stars.

Observing the Perseids meteor shower
The position of the Perseid radiant.

The radiant, that is the point of apparent origin of the meteor shower, is found in the constellation of Perseus, to the north-east, near the constellation of Cassiopeia. This year, the observation will unfortunately be disturbed by the almost full Moon, although it will be possible to have more luck in the second half of the night, when our satellite will be lower towards the horizon.

The observation must be made strictly with the naked eye, while to photograph them, a tripod and a reflex type camera will be more than enough. Aiming the target, better a wide angle, towards the constellation of Perseus and make poses of 30 to 60 seconds each. There is a very good chance that shooting stars will appear in your photographs!

Also don’t miss this time, with binoculars or telescope, the giant planets, Jupiter and Saturn, in the southern sky.

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