Watching the Perseids Meteor Shower

courtesy/livescience.com

courtesy/livescience.com

Part of my theme this month is about getting schooled but I feel this should apply to me as much as it does to anyone else. I’ve touched base on learning or getting schooled about sharks and youth subculture. Today I want to talk a little about taking the opportunity to learn a little about the Perseids Meteor Shower.

I’ve always loved looking up at the night sky. It’s amazing isn’t it? I’m not astronomer and I never really did have dreams of being an astronaut or anything like that, though I’ve always found astronomy a fascinating science. I don’t have a telescope or any other equipment but having seen all the posts online about the meteor shower being seen through tonight, assuming I’m reading the information correctly, I decided to take a look last night. I don’t usually take the time to view such things and it’s a shame really. I don’t do enough self-driven learning and the one thing about my theme is that I will have to do that and it’s a very good thing. I highly recommend it to anyone – to get interested in something, take even just a few minutes to learn about it. You never know what you’ll learn and you may have just found a new permanent interest.

Doing a little research, again I didn’t go all crazy and spend hours on the Internet, I found some useful information to help me figure out my plan for watching the meteor shower. I learned a few things along the way. Learning is so fun so why don’t I do this more often? I don’t know but I’m working on changing that.

I discovered the shower is so named after the constellation Perseus, a Greek hero. Persus, and I had to review this also because my Greek mythology is also rusty these days, is the legendary founder of Mycenae and the Perseid dynasty of the Danaans, at least according to Wikipedia. Two acclaimed major feats for Perseus – killing Gorgon Medusa and claiming Andromeda as his own after rescuing her from a sea monster. Just thought you should know in case you didn’t… I couldn’t remember.

So his constellation is in the northern sky. The shower, from what I read, could be seen in the northeast portion of the sky near his constellation, hence the name Perseids Meteor Shower. I did also read, via Earthsky.org and CSMonitor.com, that the happens every year about this time – mid-July to mid- or late August. It’s visible in both hemispheres, but more so in the northern hemisphere. It is also about the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet orbits the sun every 133 years and the Earth crosses it’s path yearly. As it makes it’s way to and around the sun, there is a lot of debris, if you will, and that’s what we see in our night sky. Earthsky.org reported the bits and pieces hit the Earth’s atmosphere at about 210,000 kilometers (130,000 miles) per hour. Amazing huh?

A multicolored, long Perseid meteor striking t...

A multicolored, long Perseid meteor striking the sky just to the left of Milky Way. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t really want to drive anywhere to see this spectacular show, so I just walked somewhere near my apartment where I could somewhat block out the lights, avoid any creepy crawly desert critters but also see the meteors streaking across the night sky. There’s probably a better spot, but I managed to do alright. I saw several meteors near the start of the show if you will (based on what I read viewing could start at about 11 p.m. but you could see a better show closer to around 4:30 a.m.). I remember the last time I did anything like this was years ago with my dad. The comet Hale-Bopp would be passing by so one night he and I went out by the nearby community college and watched this stunning beauty pass us by on it’s long journey. We had some of Enya’s music playing and it was magnificent! What an incredible night! I really should do that kind of thing more often.

Based on what I read and knowing the timing of this show, it’s a great way to spend time with the kids, learn some astronomy, Greek mythology if you want, and just see something truly beautiful.

I’m not the most educated person in this field. I don’t know that what I have to say about all this is significant, original or even all that entertaining… I just wanted to share my experience a little bit and pass on what I do know about this amazing, natural light show.

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