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Tonight is the peak night of the Perseid Meteor shower. It is one of my favorite times of the whole summer, the night when you either stay up really late or get up really early to go to some darkened field to watch little flecks of fire streak across the sky.
Now, not everyone can get out of their Mega-City to watch this yearly occurrence; but not to worry, the guys at NASA will hook you up! That is what we have at the top of this post a live composite of the meteors that have streaked across the sky.
They should be starting the view right as this post, um, posts, so take a look. There is also a live chat with NASA astronomers if you are into that kind of thing and you can find it here.
Now the camera you are looking at will be at the top of the NASA facility in Huntsville AL. If you don’t like that view, this link will take you to other cameras scattered across the nation.
For those of you, like myself, who want the real naked-eye view, here is what you want to do. The best time to see the Perseids is between about 3am and dawn. Yes, yes, I know, it is late but this is Late Night FDL! We are up when others are down (or something to that effect)!
Go as far from city lights as practical. Lie down on the ground so that the horizon is in your peripheral vision. Unfortunately, the Moon is full and it is going to brighten the sky. So be sure to put it to behind you — and don’t look anywhere near it as it will wash out most of the meteors. Then let your eyes adjust, in about 10 minutes or so you will be able to see streaks of light crossing the sky!
Where do these little bits of space grit come from? They were left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet. This comet has a 133 year-long orbit and leaves particles of ice and dust in Earth’s orbit. When we pass through this defuse cloud, they burn up in our atmosphere.
Now post a comment and figure out where you’re going to watch the skies tonight!
The floor is yours.