This year it will be difficult to capture the most famous of the meteor showers on the astronomical calendar, the Perseids. The reason is that they coincide with the full Moon, but we can try to see them, with a bit of luck we will be able to catch a glimpse of them, if not this week, throughout the month of August.
When will they be visible?
The Perseids are associated with the central days of the month of August. This year it will be between the 11th and 13th that these shooting stars cross our skies more frequently. It is a very regular shower of stars, and in fact owes its other name, “Tears of San Lorenzo”, to the fact that they appear around the day of San Lorenzo (August 10).
This year, yes, we will run into a problem: the full Moon. And nothing less than a supermoon, which will not allow the night to get dark enough for us to enjoy this shower of stars with the intensity of other years.
How to prevent the full Moon from leaving us without Perseids.
The good news is that the Perseids will continue to cross our sky even after these days of increased intensity. This meteor shower can be seen until the first day of September.
If we want to see the Perseids, surely our best option is to wait for the Moon to move towards darker phases, since its sunrise and sunset times will not allow us many moments of intense darkness. We will be able to take advantage of the new moon of August 27 and the previous days to try to locate some of these summer shooting stars.
Where to look?
The Perseids can streak across the night sky anywhere, but not in just any direction. If the name “Tears of San Lorenzo” is due to the date on which they appear, that of Perseids is due to their location in the sky. Specifically, they owe this name to the fact that they always seem to emerge from the same point in the sky, located in the Perseus constellation. They are said to “radiate” from this point.
What exactly are the Perseids.
The origin of this meteor shower is comment 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Once a year, Earth’s orbit takes us through space through the wake of this comet, which in turn orbits our star every 133 years (the last time it passed close to us was in 1992).
The comet’s trail is nothing more than dust and rocks that break off from the comet and travel at different speeds in a more or less identical orbit. When these fragments cross the Earth, they enter the atmosphere and fall at high speeds as small meteors. Due to friction with the air they become incandescent (exceeding 1500 degrees) and can be seen on their way to destruction.
El cometa 109P/Swift-Tuttle.
This comet was identified in the 1860s but later calculations associated it with several more steps. We know that it has been with us for about 2000 years and could have been observed in 188 and 69 BC. His next step will be visible around 2126.
It is a somewhat elusive comet, since from its first observations it was not possible to accurately calculate its orbit, which led to unsuccessful estimates of its passage from the 1990s and even to an erroneous prediction that its next passage could be a danger.
And knowing that every year we pass through its wake, it is worth asking: will we ever collide with this comet? The answer is that not in at least a thousand years. In a millennium, in the year 3044, the comet and the Earth will approach a close distance, but still speaking in astronomical terms, its passage is expected to be at a distance twice that which separates us from the Moon. We can breathe easy.
Image | David Babayan
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