Meteor shower over Wales

I know this is a bit off-topic for DARnet but it is August after all, and during this month I’ve been doing some research about astronomy for beginners. The perseids watching was a genuine interst and now after the main part of the event I read a newsreport from South Wales, one of my favourite places, which taught me two new facts.

1) The Perseid meteor shower is caused by remnants of a comet, I knew that already, but the name of the comet is not usually quoted. It is Comet Swift Tuttle

2) The Leonids are another annual meteor show which takes place in November, but this year the most spectacular will be the the Geminids in December

News Wales > Environment > Meteor shower over Wales
Meteor shower over Wales

14/8/2007

University of Glamorgan astronomers recorded a total of 123 meteors during this year’s annual Perseid meteor shower on the night of August 12 and 13.

This was a good total despite cloud cover ruining the latter part of the viewing session.

“The evening was very clear with the Milky Way clearly visible as a shining ribbon of broken light extending right from the northern to southern horizon. Most city dwellers will have never seen our home galaxy due to the ever pervasive glow of street lights, but the Brecon Beacons is one of the best areas in the UK to view this elusive wonder. The dark lanes of the Cygnus rift were clearly visible and the knotty condensations of star clouds were clearly etched, almost like real clouds on the sky.”

The Perseids are one of the year’s best showers. It has a regular meteor count of between 30 to 50 per hours, the meteors having bright, yellow trains, many ending with a brief flash of light as the dust grain explodes on our upper atmosphere.

These dusty remnants are all that is left after comet Swift Tuttle visits the inner solar system every 120 years, its last visit being in the late 1990s. Cometary dust makes up the vast majority of micro-meteoritic particles which rain down upon the Earth totalling some 40,000 tonnes of material per year.

Glamorgan astronomers anticipate the next meteor shower; the Geminids in December, to provide an enjoyable display.

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