I’m getting so many hits on my Perseids article today, that I thought I would tell you how to spot them. This is from earthsky.org, where you can learn a lot more about the night sky.
What is WAY cool is that they suggest a camp out as the best way to watch the Perseid showers. No better place than the desert, so pack those tents and head out of town, away from the ambient light. One problem – moonlight.
With the 2009 Perseid meteor shower due to peak on the mornings of August 12 and 13, people are asking, How can I find this constellation in the night sky, so that I can see the meteors?
One note before the excitement starts to build. This year, there will be a waning moon in the sky during the peak hours for the Perseids. So 2009 is not the best possible year to see this shower. You might try watching for meteors in the early part of the night. Or you might see some Perseids in bright moonlight – in the peak hours between midnight and dawn – on the mornings of August 12 and 13.
Moonlight is just a local problem. The meteors will be raining down as always, even if moonlight drowns them from view. The Perseid meteor shower is named for the constellation Perseus the Hero. It’s from this part of the sky that the meteors will appear to radiate. Today’s chart shows Perseus ascending over the northeastern horizon around midnight. That’s why this meteor shower is better after midnight: because after midnight, the radiant point for the shower is above the horizon. Just remember, the glare of the waning gibbous moon will wash out some Perseid meteors during the peak hours of 2009.
Notice the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia just above Perseus. The constellation Perseus is faint, but Cassiopeia is noticeable and can help you find it. If you do see a Perseid meteor in 2009, and trace its path backward, you will find that it radiated from a point in the sky within the boundaries of the constellation Perseus. When the moon is out of the way, a meteors are raining down in all parts of the sky, you don’t need to know the whereabouts of a shower’s radiant to enjoy the shower. But people always ask! So here you are.
Many people look forward each summer to the Perseids. This shower always peaks at this time of year, and it reliably produces 60 or more meteors per hour at its peak, or an average of about one a minute. It’s great fun to give meteor-watching a try! It’s a chance to go to a dark site with friends and family – a chance to see some stars and enjoy the night air – and see some meteors. The 2009 shower will be troubled by the moon, but there’s still fun to be had, if you and your friends and family want to try a camp-out on the peak nights.
WeatherUnderground has an entire section devoted to the night sky specific to YOUR area; this is what the one looks like for Doha, Qatar:
How cool is that?
You will see Perseus on this map in the bottom left sector.
I thought there was a night sky thingy on Google Earth, too, but I can’t find it. Anyone know how to do that?