Treat from the skies starting tonight — the annual Perseids meteor shower.
Anthony Lydgate back-grounding at the New Yorker this afternoon:
The Perseids keep their annual schedule so well that in the nineteenth century they were known as the Tears of St. Lawrence, since they stream through the sky most abundantly around August 10th, the holy man’s feast day.
They must be tears of mirth, because Lawrence was not much given to grief.
Moments before his martyrdom, he reputedly told his Roman executioners, who were roasting him alive on a gridiron, “Turn me over. This side is done.”
(Illustration: Perseids with the Milky way in Pirin Mountain National park, Bulgaria, found here).
As an evening fog is already drifting across us here on California’s north coast, any kind of Perseid viewing is gone to shit. However, if I really wanted to actually witness the spectacle, I’d just have to go a mile or two eastward and would have most-likely clear nighttime skies.
Options to view without being outside from Space.com: ‘(You can watch the Perseid meteor shower online via a free live webcast by the Slooh Community Observatory. The four-hour webcast begins at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT). You can also watch the Perseids meteor shower webcast on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh.)‘
A few Perseid details at Gizmodo:
The Perseids are an annual meteor shower that shows up right at the height of summer in August.
Usually, the shower comes to an impressive peak of almost 100 meteors per hour.
That number is already enough to tie it with the Geminids for the most prolific shower of the year, but this year we should see rates of almost double the normal amount, with 160-200 meteors each hour.
It’s called an outburst—and this is the first one we’ve seen in the Perseids since 2009.
The already considerably thick blanket of meteors we see during the Perseids is due to the trail of dust and debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle.
This year, however, the comet’s trail is pulled a little closer to us by Jupiter’s gravity — and that means that instead of skirting the trail’s edges, our planet passes straight through the thick of it, doubling the amount of debris we see burn up beautifully in our atmosphere as meteors.
But it’s not just the number of meteors to be on the look out for this year.
There’s also something exceptional about those meteors themselves.
Each year, the Perseids mix in a high number of fireballs into the shower, which burn brighter and bigger than any plain old meteoroids.
Even on a regular year, it’s the best shower of the year for fireballs.
But, like I said, this is no ordinary year.
“The last Perseid outburst, which happened in 2009, was pretty spectacular, with a fair number of fireballs mixed in with the regular meteors,” Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office told Gizmodo.
“I would think that this year’s display, on the night of the 11th/morning of the 12th, would be similar.”
And yeah, in so many ways, this is no ordinary year…