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Perseid Meteors

Tonight, if you're lucky and a bit patient, you ought to be able to see some Perseid meteors. On average a watcher under good skies should see about one meteor per minute. The Perseid meteor shower lasts about two weeks, and is expected to peak tonight between 6pm and 9pm (EDT). Those of us in the contintental US will have probably better luck later in the evening though, between midnight and dawn, when Perseus is high in the sky.

For more information, including star charts, check out these resources from Sky and Telescope and Spacewatch.


Report (9:00 PM EDT, northern New Jersey): A combination of haze and light pollution has given my sky a dull reddish glow. Only a single star at the zenith (Vega?) is cutting through the mire. I'll try again later tonight or tomorrow. Is anyone having better luck?

Report (Tuesday 9:00 PM EDT, northern New Jersey): Still lots of haze. The moon was up this time, orange in the illuminated crescent with lovely earthglow beyond.

At first the sky looked no better than last night but as my eyes adjusted I realized that I could see Deneb as well as Vega. I found a spot to stand relatively free from street lights and neighbors' floodlights and stared straight up.

As my eyes adjusted I noted the faintest object I could see: Albireo, in Cygnus, a binary star whose brighter component is about magnitude 3.1. That's a pretty poor limiting magnitude, and that was at the relatively dark zenith.

Still, it was much better than last night so I decided to risk neck strain for a few minutes, and I was rewarded: a bright meteor (brighter than Vega - I'd guess between -1 and -2) left a brief a beautiful trail as it sped to the southwest near the zenith.

I watched for another five minutes or so until my neck gave out, and then I returned indoors, considering myself lucky given the conditions.

Did anyone else see any Perseids?

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