Perseid Meteor Shower to Illuminate the Sky Tonight

The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides, a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus.

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2,000 years, with the earliest information on this meteor shower coming from the Far East.[1] Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the “tears of St. Lawrence”, since 10 August is the date of that saint’s martyrdom.

Peak of shower: August 11–12

Where should I look? The whole sky, actually. The shooting stars will seem to come from the constellation Perseus, in the northeastern sky. But they may appear anywhere as quick streaks.

Where should I not to look? Don’t look at the moon, or anything else bright. You want your eyes to get used to the dark.

Where should I go? Any place will do, but darker is better, with a nice expanse of open sky. Get away from city lights if you can.

Can I take pictures? Sure, you can try, but a smartphone camera probably won’t do. You’ll want a camera with manual settings and a tripod is a must. Set your lens to the widest possible setting. Set the ISO (sensitivity to light) to a high number, such as 400 or 1600. And — this is critical — your exposures need to be l-o-n-g. Experiment. An exposure of 30 seconds might give you a field of stars with a couple of streaks across it. Or you might try for an hour (close down the f/stop) and get very little.

Photo: frank3.0

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