Posts Tagged ‘perseid meteor shower’

Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

Just a quick post here to remind everyone that the Perseid Meteor Shower of 2015 is nearly at its peak. The peak this year is on the night of the 12th August, going into the morning of the 13th August. It is going to be a really good year as well due to there being no moon, which means over a hundred meteors each hour should be seen relatively easily if you are in a dark location (like up on Dartmoor). All we need is a clear sky, although this could be the issue as the forecast (for Plymouth) is cloud. It will be a real shame if it is cloudy with it being a great year for meteor spotting!

I had a quick look at the sky last night as it was crystal clear over my house, but didn’t see any, probably as it wasn’t quite dark enough. I could just about make out the Milky Way though, so I reckon that if I was able to stay out later, I would have seen some.  You should be able to see the meteors now and through until about the 24th August, so there is still hope if it is cloudy on the peak of the shower. I remember a few years ago, we saw some amazing meteors on the August Bank Holiday weekend, and that was over 2 weeks after the peak, so it is still well worth taking a look right up until the end of the month.

Good luck!

Origin of Perseid Meteors

Origin of Perseid Meteors

ISS and Perseids 2012

Finally we have had a break in the miserable weather and I have been able to go out and have a look at the night Sky again!

Luckily the clearer night skies have coincided with the time of the year when the International Space Station is most visible in our region.  Last night I saw it for the first time this year and it was as good as it was in 2011.  This year it seems to have changed its trajectory in the sky as it came in from towards the Hoe and travelled towards Yelverton, wheras last year it came from the direction of Cornwall and right over the top of our house towards the edges of Dartmoor. I would recommend to anyone to have a look each evening for it. It is currently coming into view in Plymouth for several minutes between 21:30 and 23:00, but you will have to check for exact timings. Once you see it in the Sky, then you know what it is straight away as it is much brighter than anything else and it is moving at a constant speed. If you can get hold of some binoculars you should be able to see the solar panels on each side of the main pod with ease.

It is also the time of year for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. This year the height of the shower is on the 12th and 13th of August. I am hoping the evenings will stay clear enough on those nights to view them, however I will be out before and after those dates as you will still be able to see the miniscule dust particles light up the night sky, but less frequently. They originate from the Perseus Constellation which is basically looking towards Dartmoor from anywhere in Plymouth, so can easily be seen.

The International Space Station and Perseid Meteors

During the month of August the ISS (International Space Station) could be seen in the sky during most evenings. The first time that I saw it was on Sunday 21st August when my family and I were on holiday in Weymouth. I wasn’t sure what to expect really as I didn’t know how bright it was going to be and how easily it could be made out from the rest of the stars in the sky. I had a NASA app on my phone which gave the general direction of where the ISS would be coming from and the length of time it would be viewable in the sky, but I was still worried that I wouldn’t see it.

Whilst on the look out, I was scanning the sky generally for constellations and satellites and to my amazement saw the best two shooting stars I had ever seen in my life.  These were obviously not actual shooting stars but were two meteors from the Perseid Meteor Shower. This was especially great as the height of the meteor shower was a couple of weeks before, so these would have come from the tail end of the passing shower and were totally unexpected. They were so bright and the trails in the sky were long and wide. It was brilliant to see and completely lucky that I was looking at that area of the sky at the right time. I knew these were part of the Perseids as their general direction originated from towards the constellation Perseus, and from my position, they shot past in front of Cassiopeia as well.

The image below is the best image I can find that shows almost exactly what I saw in the sky.

A Perseid Meteor

A Perseid Meteor -

Not long after, I suddenly spotted a very bright light in the sky coming from the direction where the ISS was meant to originate from. The object was moving as well which meant that what I was seeing was the ISS, and it was bang on time (the app gives the time of when the ISS becomes visible in the sky). Where I was watching was in the direct path of the ISS, so it flew directly over the top of me which was great to see!  Looking at it you could just make out the solar panels and the general shape which made it an amazing sight. It lasted for about 4 minutes before it passed by and faded to black as it moved away from the sun (which was reflecting off the panels which is why it was visible in the sky).  After seeing this, I was out most evenings when the sky was clear to view the International Space Station pass overhead, and I would recommend the viewing to anyone as it is a great thing to experience and puts a lot of things into perspective.  Unfortunately, now we are in mid-September, the ISS has moved out of viewable range in the evenings although it can be seen for a fleeting moment during the early hours of the morning on occasions.

The International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station (ISS) -

The sighting of the International Space Station also cleared up a little mystery from earlier in the year when I was out at Mount Batten in Plymouth and saw a very bright object move across the sky at a fairly brisk pace.  At the time I wasn’t sure what it was and thought it may have actually been a UFO, but after seeing the ISS during the Summer, I can now say that what I saw in March was the ISS travelling across the sky above us. Am glad this has been cleared up although it would have been nice if it was a UFO!  😉

Perseid Meteor Shower 2011

The Perseid Meteor Shower (the ‘Perseids’) will reach its peak activity on Saturday 13th August this year. Unfortunately, this coincides with a full moon this year which will make the sky so bright that only the closest and largest meteors will be seen.  But don’t ignore it for this year, as it will still be possible to view them!

The Perseids originate from the constellation Perseus, but actually have nothing to do with any of the stars in the constellation. They are actually rock fragments left over from the comet Swift-Tuttle when it last flew near the Sun. So if you can find the constellation of Perseus in the night sky, you will know where to look for the meteors streaking across the sky.  However, don’t just look at the constellation, look at the area around it as you will still be able to see them as they only originate from Perseus.

Let’s hope for a clear sky and good viewing to everyone!