Thursday, August 12, 2004

Perseid meteors rain this week


Stargazer predicts 'spectacular' show

By William A. Weathers
Enquirer staff writer

Look to the northeastern skies late tonight for a free light show.

For the best view of this year's Perseid meteor shower, Paul Nohr recommends heading to an open field away from the city lights with a sleeping bag, hot beverage and some mosquito repellent.

"Get away from homes and trees so you can see as much of the sky as possible," said Nohr, astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory in Hyde Park.

"This the second-best show in the northern hemisphere if you can get out of the city away from the lights."

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks today and Friday this year, and the best time to see it is between 2 a.m. and dawn, Nohr said. The meteors should be visible in the northeastern skies.

Prospects for seeing a spectacular light show this year are good, since the moon will set early.

"This year they're predicting showers with a 100 meteors an hour," Nohr said.

"In Cincinnati, you might see 60 or 70, depending if the skies are cloudy or clear - about one a minute."

The National Weather Service says the skies will be partly cloudy today and Friday.

The Perseid meteors are small particles from the Swift-Tuttle comet that are no bigger than a grain of sand.

They are traveling about 132,000 mph and become brilliant when they hit the atmosphere at that speed.

"We see the debris of the comet,'' Nohr said.

Viewed from the Earth's surface, the meteors appear to flow from the constellation Perseus, hence the name Perseids.

The Perseid meteor shower is "one of our most reliable" light shows, Nohr said.

"It comes around the same time (each year) about the 12th of August," he said.

For those who can't be up at 2 a.m., try searching the northeastern skies about 9 or 10 p.m. and you might be able to see a portion of the meteor shower.

E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com




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