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Sky watch: Astronomy Perseids Meteor Shower in August

August is a great month for amateur astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts this year. This month we have the two most beautiful planets, which are also the two largest planets of our solar system at opposition and the best meteor shower of the year in this month as well.

In 1992 when Comet Swift-Tuttle visited the Sun, it left behind a trail of debris (rock and ice particles) along its path. As Earth moves around the Sun, it passes through this trail of debris and these particles enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up to form the long trail of light which we call a meteor. When these meteors appear large in number in a short period of time, we call it a meteor shower. The Perseids meteor shower  is the best meteor shower which will produce upto 150 meteors per hour under clear sky conditions. We expect as much as 60 meteors visible per hour this  year.

There’s no one spot in the sky from where the meteors will appear to come from.  The meteors will appear across the sky throughout the night. However the best time to view the meteors would be after midnight as the constellation of Perseus will rise from the North-Eastern horizon. All these meteors from this shower will appear to originate from Perseus constellation.

The best way to spot Perseus would be after 2am as the bright star Capella (Brahmahrudaya) appears at the North-East and the stars of Perseus lie above this star. So wake up early on the 12th of August to witness the meteors as Perseus rises high in the sky.

Perseus can also be spotted between the ‘W’ formed by the 5 stars of Cassiopeia  in the north and the ‘A’ formed by the Taurus constellation, with the bright red star Aldebaran shining in the East.

This is also the month where  Saturn and Jupiter reach opposition. Opposition is point when the planet is exactly opposite the Sun. Just like the Full Moon day, when the Moon is completely lit, the Planets at opposition will be completely lit as the Sun, Earth and the Planet fall along  a straight line. The parts of Earth with no daylight will have the Planets falling exactly opposite  to the Sun, thereby being visible from Sunset to Sunrise.

Saturn underwent opposition on 2nd August and Jupiter will be at opposition on 20th August this year making them appear bright and closest for observation for the entire month just after Sunset, reaching the highest point in the night sky at midnight and setting in the west as the sun rises in the east.

Poornaprajna Amateur astronomers’ club wishes everyone clear skies to enjoy the Perseids meteor shower and to observe the two gas giants of our solar system at opposition.

(ಉಪಯುಕ್ತ ನ್ಯೂಸ್)

ಉಪಯುಕ್ತ ನ್ಯೂಸ್‌’ ಫೇಸ್‌ಬುಕ್ ಪುಟ ಲೈಕ್ ಮಾಡಿ


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