One of the major meteor showers of the year, An eagerly awaited, annual astronomical event, from mid July to the last week of August. Resulting shower from the Earths passage, annually, through the dust and debris trail of Comet 109P/ Swift-Tuttle. (A periodic comet with a current osculating orbital period of 133 years, next due 2126).
Meteors appear from a radiant point in the constellation of Perseus, Which this year 2019 is to our North East. Meteors in the Perseids class became more active from 17th July, increasing daily reaching a peak on the night of 12th August / morning of 13th August (best from midnight to dawn, approx 5.30am), as we move beyond peak the meteor shower becomes less active and fade away towards the 24th August. At peak its estimated that from a dark place you might see between 80 to 100 meteors an hour. Velocity 59.4 Km per second thats (132,874 mph) 36.91 miles per second. This year the Moon will be a Waxing Crescent 22.8 days old. Quite full but low on horizon setting 3 to 4am-ish. South West / West, Meteor showers are best viewed from dark and quiet places away from sources of light pollution like cities and busy roads, [Safety Note:- Its advisable that you don’t observe alone and that someone is aware of were your plans and location.]. Choose a good open location with unobstructed views of the horizon. This allows you to observe as full a sky as possible. Night vision is essential for seeing fainter meteors, allow 15 to 20 minutes for your eyes to acclimatise to the dark, avoid white light torches, mobile phones and other light sources as your night vision will be impaired for a further twenty minutes. Find your best location, wrap up warm and look up. Meteor showers are the one time when the naked eye is arguably the best.
You may choose a warmer option and observe the meteors on live broadcasts, search the web for shows / Pod Casts in your location, NASA usually have one, and News networks promote them.
Remember that on our UKMON web page we have a LIVE meteors option for detections from a selection of member cameras that auto updated as they occur, composite images are generated and displayed.
Weather plays a major part in our ability to observe, a section of our membership get round this problem by Meteor detection by Radio, done day or night irrespective of weather, using specialist equipment. We look forward to their results.
UKMON members will (weather permitting) detect and capture meteor observations not only of the Perseids, but any meteor in our cameras field of view. This is done every night, 365 days a year. The serious side of our work, beyond the pleasure of the meteors beauty, is checking for new, unknown source objects( the origin asteroid or comet from which the meteor was spawned). Specialist software traces the meteors path back to its orbit and source, allowing new sources to be identified. They are logged and further orbits / paths calculated. Forward projecting looking for possible Near Earth Objects that may pose a threat to Earth. Data is shared not only with other members looking for triangulation for detected meteors but also internationally as well.
Have a good Perseids, please share your experiences with us, on our Social Media or by email, messenger. We love to see pictures and videos too.
Have a good safe night, look up and enjoy natures fireworks.
Birmingham Astronomical Society. Author John Young