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RAS PN 08/43: Maximum of Perseid meteor shower

Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 April 2010 15:30
Published on Monday, 11 August 2008 00:00
The 12th August is the annual maximum of the Perseid meteor shower.

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Date: 8 August 2008
For Immediate Release
Ref.: PN 08/43
Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
RAS Press Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)794 124 8035, +44 (0)20 7734 4582
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
RAS website: www.ras.org.uk

At its peak and in a clear, dark sky up to 80 ‘shooting stars’ or meteors may be visible each hour. Meteors are the result of small particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed and in the case of the Perseid shower these come from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which was last in the vicinity of the Earth in 1992. To the eye, the meteors appear to originate from a ‘radiant’ in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name Perseid.

Although the Perseids peak on the 12th August, the shower can be seen for some time either side of that date and it is worth looking out for them from the evening of 11th through to the morning of 13th August. To see the meteor shower, look towards the north-eastern sky from 2200 BST onwards. In clear weather and away from the light pollution of major cities, it should be possible to see a meteor at least every few minutes, with most appearing as brief streaks of light. The waxing gibbous Moon will be in the evening sky but will have set by 0130 BST on the morning of the maximum so its light will not interfere with the view after that time.

Perhaps best of all, and unlike many astronomical phenomena, meteors are best seen with the unaided eye, rather than through a telescope or binoculars and are perfectly safe to watch.

CONTACT
Robert Massey
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)794 124 8035, +44 (0)20 7734 4582
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FURTHER INFORMATION


British Astronomical Association
http://www.britastro.org

Society for Popular Astronomy
http://www.popastro.com

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.