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2015-08-13

Perseids peak this week

Contributed

The Perseids meteor shower peaks this week and although Wednesday night and this morning may have had the best viewing opportunity, tonight and Friday morning should also be good. You should also be able to glimpse a few each night until the end of the month.
There is no moon in the sky to hamper viewing, so just find a nice spot away from city lights and the security lights that tell the burglars where you live in the country, set up a cot or patio lounger and enjoy the show.
We enjoy meteor showers when the Earth sails through the debris left by a comet. The debris, bits of dust and gravel, enter the atmosphere at high speed, heat up and glow, giving us a kind of slo-mo fireworks show.
The Perseids come from the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 130 years. The Earth crosses its debris path every August.
They are named for the point of the sky from which they appear to radiate, the constellation Perseus, near the "W" shape of Cassiopeia.
The meteors average 60 to 100 per hour.
Astronomer Phil Plait advises against using binoculars or telescopes. "Meteors zip across the sky from random spots, so you want to see as much sky as possible," he said.
If a meteor survives that burning entry into our atmosphere and lands on the planet is then called a meteorite.