PITTSBURGH (KDKA/CNN) – Citizen astronomers captured stunning images of the Perseid meteor shower’s peak last night.
The shower peaked with the most number of meteors during the late evening hours of August 11 and early morning hours of August 12. It coincided with the last quarter moon phase, or a bright half moon.
This is the only Perseid meteor captured on the DSLR camera, a 20 sec exposures of the southern sky last night, just after setting up no less! This one is from 22:06 EDT. pic.twitter.com/LL8QkrMd97
— kevin kell (@trekkerk) August 12, 2020
The competition from the moon brought down the estimated number of visible meteors from more than 60 per hour to about 15 to 20, but that didn’t stop some from capturing stunning images and sharing them on Twitter.
The meteor shower is also visible on August 10 and August 13 as well, according to the American Meteor Society.
I managed to capture a Perseid meteor at pre-dawn with just my phone. It streaks just above the bright dot (which I think is Venus) on the lower right. Clouds were slowly moving in, but the timing was right and they helped soften the moon's glow. #PerseidMeteorShower 🌠 pic.twitter.com/w26Po1wixJ
— ilene 🌷 (@ilenesbasement) August 12, 2020
The Perseids have presented a scintillating display for 2,000 years, according to NASA.
These eye-catching meteors are linked to the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. That means that every August, the Earth passes through the comet’s debris field.
The only #Perseid that I caught last night. It was clear for a bit and I did see one super amazing one, but of course, I wasn't taking a shot at the time 😑 But then it clouded up on me 😕 Oh well, I guess I should have expected that from 2020😆 #PerseidMeteorShower #meteors #WV pic.twitter.com/mOETAbdCFo
— Jennifer Rose Lane (@Jens_Starry_Sky) August 12, 2020
The ice and dust, accumulating over a thousand years, burn up in our atmosphere to create the meteor shower. The Perseids showcase more bright meteors than any other annual meteor shower.
The meteors can be traced to the Perseus constellation, from which they get their name, which will climb in the northeastern sky as the evening passes. From our perspective, the meteors all seem to come from a single point called the “radiant,” but that’s because they are moving parallel to each other.
When the radiant is highest in the sky, we’ll see the most meteors. But Earthgrazer meteors, which skim Earth’s atmosphere and showcase long, blazing tails, are visible earlier in the evening when the radiant is low above the horizon.
The meteors themselves are traveling at 132,000 miles per hour, which creates vivid streaks of light. These tiny stones can reach between 3,000 and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit during this shower.
The comet itself will come extremely close to Earth in a “near-miss” in 2126. (That’s about 14.2 million miles away, so there’s no danger.)
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