Mark your calenders again, August 12,2007 is when we will be visited by the Perseids Meteor Shower. A couple of very important pluses this year. 1. There is a new moon this year which means you won't have the glare of the moon to interfere with your viewing, the sky will be darker therefore greater contrast and the meteors will show up better. 2. Mars will be in the sky as well, yeh! Mars will be in the NE part of the sky and will appear as a bright red object. If you dont have em, beg borrow or steal a pair of binocs for Mars (not for the meteors). You'll be able to see the shower from your backyard in the city, but to see the fainter meteors you'll have to venture a little ways out of town. As soon as it starts to get dark the show begins. To start with you should see a couple every minute, the frequency increases up to 20 or more a minute at its peak just before dawn. The Perseids get their name from the constellation Perseus, which is the radiant of the shower (where the shower appears to start from). Low in the north east to start, Perseus rises high in the sky just before dawn. When viewing showers focus your eyes between the radiant (NE sky) and the Zenith (sky directly above you) and get your fav lawn chair and relax. The shower itself is actually the debris trail of a comet discovered way back in 1862 named Swift-Tutle and every year the Earth in its orbit around the sun passes through it. The comets most recent visit was back in 1992. The debris field is made up cosmic dust cast off by the comet as it gets close to the sun. FYI, the cosmic dust is called a meteroid, once it hits the atmosphere it is called a meteor, once it hits the ground it becomes a meteorite.
The picture I have posted came from Slooh with permission. It is the comet lovejoy. I booked a 5 minute time slot with the robotic scope and took an image, get Slooh! its too cool for school.