Monday, August 13, 2007
The peak of the Perseids meteor shower occurred last night during the new moon, bringing both amateur and professional astronomers out in full force. Low moonlight on Saturday and none at all on Sunday night made this year a brilliant opportunity for astronomers and stargazers. An added bonus was the presence of Mars, which shone bright red near the constellation Taurus.
The show started between 9:00 and 10:00 Sunday night. Sightings grew more frequent until the peak just before sunrise when as many as 80 meteors per minute could be seen in clear skies.
Perseids, which gets its name due to its appearance close to the constellation Perseus, a major feature of the night sky, occurs every year and is one of the most reliable meteor showers to watch in the northern hemisphere.
A meteor shower occurs when the Earth’s orbit intersects debris in the tail of a comet. Every meteor shower has an associated comet. In the case of the Perseids meteor shower, the associated comet is Swift-Tuttle.