Do you know that between August 9 and 14, depending on your location, the Perseid meteor showers is on its peak? According to the NASA website, at its peak we can see 98 meteors per hour from the mountain top of San Francisco area provided that the sky is clear, the moon light and city light and other lights do not pollute the sky. (Update: I found another NASA website that claimed at peak there are approximately 50 meteors per hour. Urgh… what a major difference).
So last night/this morning, we went to stargaze and we’re hit with reality. Number one, finding a good and safe and legal place to stargaze without being blinded by lights or ran over by cars or blocked by cloud are not easy. By the time we got to a place with good opening, clear and dark enough sky, it was already close to 12:30 a.m. !
Number two, we’re sleepy and concerned about our next day work. So we decided to go back at 2:00 a.m. We are not morning people, but if we were, we should have gone at 4:00 a.m. As a result, we got to see only about 20 falling stars, more than I’ve seen in regular days, but not as near as the reported peak. It’s still quite something though to see those stars in the sky plus the planets (Jupiter was very bright last night).
If you are like me, you kinda know what meteor shower is, but you don’t quite know what it is. Here are some of my findings:
Meteor shower is an event in which many meteors are observed to radiate from one point in the night sky. Last night is called Perseids meteor shower because it comes from the constellation Perseus. I honestly didn’t see it as radiating from one point. I saw them across the night sky – on my left, on my right, on the top, anywhere.
Apparently Perseid meteor shower has been around for a long time – something like 2000 years, and it can be seen mostly from the Northern Hemisphere. Every year, Perseid is active between July till August. This JPL-NASA website gives us a list of major meteor showers in 2010-2011 and also tips on seeing it.
Here is a link to an abc news program that makes me meteorly envious, especially considering that the location is in a residential place. They don’t even have to drive away from their house!
Anyway, enough rambling about Perseid. Tonight and tomorrow night, we’re planning to chase those meteors again. Hopefully, we can see more of them, or if not, at least we get to spend good time laughing with friends, and that’s probably the beauty of watching meteor showers with others.