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Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 Perseids Meteor Shower Tonight

The 2014 Perseids Meteor Shower excites Northern Hemisphere astronomers and stargazers every summer with a display of remarkably bright meteor showers. However, this year's amazingly large Supermoon might make viewing most showers difficult; regardless, there is still hope that some meteor showers will be visible! This year's meteor shower spectacle will peak tonight (August 11-12) and tomorrow night (August 12-13). According to EarthSky and other sources, the evening of August 12 and the morning of August 13 is expected to have the most showers, with approximately 50 to 100 per hour.
Why do the Perseids happen annually?
Practically every August, Earth's orbit crosses with Comet Swift-Tuttle, so cosmic debris then burns up in the Earth's atmosphere.
Where should I look?
EarthSky (linked above) shows a constellation map of where the meteor shower originates. Especially after midnight, stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere (the Perseids will not be really visible from the Southern Hemisphere) should position themselves towards the northeast. The showers originate in between the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia. If you are not sure where those constellations are, look for a relatively bright W-shaped formation (that is Cassiopeia), and Perseus will be to the south of Cassiopeia. I hope you are able to watch the meteor shower and see some shooting stars!

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Blog Background

The background has three Hubble Space Telescope images, which are accessible at this Hubble webpage:

— LH 95 is a star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, Dorado constellation.

— Ant Nebula (also called Menzel 3) is an aptly-named planetary nebula located in the constellation Norma.
— Egg Nebula (also called CL 2688) is a protoplanetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus.

HubbleSite Image Links: LH 95, Ant Nebula, and Egg Nebula