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28.7.09

Meteor Shower Time!



PERSEIDS
Predicted Maximum: Possibly multiple peaks on August 12 and August 13
WHEN TO WATCH: Wednesday morning, August 12, from about midnight until morning twilight gets too bright. Repeat on Thursday morning, August 13. north of latitude 32N
The Perseids are probably the most-watched annual meteor shower. The shower has a very long duration, from about July 15 through August 25. The shower is most interesting around its peak on August 12 or 13. The "traditional" peak of the shower would occur at around 18:00UT on August 12, in daylight for north America.
However, Esko Lyytinen predicts enhanced rates earlier on August 12, with a possible peak around 9:00UT [2:00am PDT; 5:00am EDT].
And if by chance last year's unexplained late peak repeats itself, it could come on the morning of
August 13 at 8:00UT [1:00am PDT; 4:00am EDT]. So, there are exciting possibilities for North American observers. Unfortunately, the Moon will be the Perseids'
constant companion this year, rising late in the evening and
culminating in the predawn hours. A high-elevation, dry
observing site should be very helpful to get the most out of the conditions.


The Perseid radiant is above the horizon the entire night for observers north of latitude 32N, but it is fairly low at the end of evening twilight. Morning rates are generally better. Perseids are fast meteors and tend to be fairly bright on average. An occasional fireball is seen. Peak rates with the moonlight this year are likely to be 30-50 Perseids per hour, with a sprinkling of sporadic and minor shower meteors added to the mix. Mornings adjacent to the peak are usually worth watching, although the moonlight will be a hindrance this year.
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