View Full Version : The Perseids

Zero Day
2003-08-12, 15:47
Not really a hiking subject but interesting none the less

THE PERSEIDS are predicted to peak overnight on Aug. 12-13, when Earth travels through the middle of a belt of debris laid down in space by comet Swift-Tuttle.

But a major obstacle, the moon, will work against attempts to spot the fiery space dust this year. The moon will turn full on Aug. 12, severely hampering observations at just the wrong time. Bright moonlight will flood the sky all through that entire night.

Perseids, named for the constellation Perseus from which they appear to emanate, are typically fast, bright and occasionally leave persistent trains. And every once in a while, a Perseid fireball will blaze forth, bright enough to be quite spectacular and more than capable to attract attention even in bright moonlight.

The Perseid meteors appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus, next door to the W-shaped grouping in northern skies known as Cassiopeia's Chair. Although the "radiant" is in Perseus, the meteors can appear in any part of the sky. Click for a larger map.

Meteors must be viewed with the naked eye. They move too quickly for binoculars or telescopes to be useful. Just lie back on a lounge chair or blanket to avoid neck strain and look up. Keep your eyes glued to as wide a region of the sky as possible, in an area away from the moon. Using a tall building, mountain or tree to block the full moon can improve your prospects slightly.

The best time to see Perseid meteors is during the last hours before dawn, when Earth rushes headlong into the cosmic debris stream and scoops the stuff up on the leading edge of the planet.

2003-08-12, 22:37
Wont they still be visable for at least a few days after tonight?? Though not at peak .The constant rain is suposed to finally let up thursday(not holding my breath!) so might still be able to catch them this weekend maybe after the moon wanes. Streamweaver

2003-08-13, 18:31
Tried spotting them here in SE AZ last night, but the moon was absolutely full and we had a lot of scattered lightning from monsoon storms rolling through. So, in 1/2 hour of lying on our backs in her driveway, my fiance and I came up empty.

We're trying again tonight, and going someplace darker, so hopefully we'll see a few.

I think the best time I had was in November 2001 for the Leonids. I drove out to a beautiful remote spot on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains (Cave Creek Recreational Area, kind of like a scale model of Zion National Park) and stayed up for a few hours. Saw a ton of shooting stars. It was gorgeous. Of course, since (a) I was driving in a remote spot (b) near the Mexican border (c) at 2 AM (d) in a car with out-of-state plates, I got pulled over a few times by Border Patrol to make sure I wasn't smuggling anything, but living this close to Mexico 'm used to that.

2003-08-16, 16:37
I'd been looking foward to this since last August. Had the perfect spot (NW Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia) with the nearest artificial light source 20 miles away. Not a cloud in the sky - but that full lunar flood lamp pretty well washed things out. Next year maybe. Good idea posting this info - this kind of thing can really make a hike.


Zero Day
2003-08-16, 20:31
Ya, it was a wash out here also. We have been getting a lot or rain which is good, but the clouds have been messing up the observing. One thing I like about hiking is the spiritual aspect about how great the universe is and how small we as individuals are (regardless of how important we think we are.) Mars is closer than it will ever be (at least in my lifetime) so I suppose that is the next big event.