Perseids Meteor Shower 2012: What is it and Where to Watch?
Join the experts to watch the Perseids Meteor Shower.
The Perseids Meteor Shower 2012 can work for you as a cheap date night, especially since it peaks Saturday morning into Sunday.
If the clouds cooperate (that means if they stay away), you can see the annual meteor shower any night this week. Space.com tells us these objects are tiny bits of rock and debris from an old comet, which is named Swift-Tuttle after the astronomers who discovered it in 1862.
The shower splashes through the sky every year in early August when Earth passes through the comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit and sweeps up some of this debris. We see shooting stars -- rapid streaks of light -- as the tiny rocks encounter the thin upper atmosphere of the Earth and the air is heated to incandescence.
For the geeks among us, here's some trivia: The Perseids get their name from Perseus, the constellation from which they seem to emanate, but they can appear anywhere in the sky. Their only connection with Perseus is that, if you trace their path backward across the sky, eventually you get to Perseus.
You can see the shower anywhere in the sky, but look toward the southeastern sky to see the meteors at their brightest and longest.
This bit of advice from Space.com
If you don't see any meteors at first, be patient. This is a meteor shower, not a meteor storm. There will be a lot more meteors than you would see on a normal night, but they will still only come at random intervals, perhaps 20 or 30 in an hour.
When you do see a meteor, it will likely be very fast and at the edge of your field of vision. You may even doubt that what you saw was real. But, when you do see something, watch that area more closely, as two or three meteors often come in groups down the same track.
Want to Join the Pros For the Shower?
Members of the Warren Astronomical Society and Wolcott Mill interpreters will present programs on many different aspects of astronomy Sunday from 9 to 11 p.m. at the park in Ray Township. Take a guided star walk to identify common constellations and brighter stars, or peer through a variety of telescopes focused on the many wonders of the sky. The tour is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.