Sunday, August 10, 2008
did you know we are about to enter one of the BEST meteor shower viewings of the year?
the meteor shower that occurs mid august is known as the Perseids because the meteors appear to emanate from the direction of the constellation Perseus. in the summer this constellation appears in the northeast sky and is lovingly nicknamed Perseus the Hero because he "bravely" cut of the head of Medusa. now Medusa wasn't really all that bad by the standards of the time ~ her crime was merely that of boasting. she was accused by Athena of messing around with Poseidon and she had that Gorgon thing going on, but what set the "locks" flying was how she boasted of her magnificent hair. Athena would not be shown up by the beauty of Medusa and turned her flowing locks into writhing snakes. and in order to really mix things up Athena threw in the little turn to stone if you look at her catch.
so enough about Medusa and back to Perseus. you would think he had enough fame and glory going on by virtue of being Zeus' kid, but no, he had to go and chop off a woman's head to earn his little star in the sky ~ modern day version of star on the hollywood walk of fame :)
if you want to know how to identify his constellation go to:
in case you were wondering what causes meteor showers, they are debris shed from comets. as these comets orbit the Sun, ice and dust are discarded along the way. as the Earth moves through this trail of debris, we get a glimpse of the meteor shower. cool huh?
what i heard is this stream is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle and that the majority of the dust in the cloud today is approximately a thousand years old. i could only dream of living that long!!
well, i plan on living long enough to view the meteor showers this week. i heard they should peak in the northeast sky between 2 & 5 a.m. westcoast time. i am in the process of getting my gear together and need to do a lot of research in the next couple of days on exposure, ISO, etc. it may seem like a "gimme" but stuff like this is tricky...
it would be awesome to know that some of you will also be gazing to the northeast sky tuesday morning. don't worry about the light from the near 3/4 moon ~ it sets about 1:00 a.m.. YOU better set your alarm (smile)
to learn more about the scientific stuff, go to: http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors/