Newsletter for Thursday 10 August 2000

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

Thursday's Classroom for August 10, 2000

On Saturday morning, August 12th, early-rising stargazers can enjoy the sight of an unusually colorful Moon as it sinks below the southwestern horizon. You have to be awake at 3:30 a.m. to see the sight, but it may be worth it. That's because after the Moon sets the sky will sparkle with a brief but beautiful Perseid meteor shower.

This week's episode of Thursday's Classroom features stories for kids and educational lesson plans about meteors and the coming Perseid meteor shower.

Activities include:

  • Falling Star French Toast -- This activity will motivate kids to wake up early for the meteor display!

  • Meteor Estimation Graphing -- Students can try their hand at guessing how many meteors per hour might be seen during this year's Perseid meteor shower.

  • Sky Orienteering -- This simple lesson introduces kids to the cardinal directions around their house so they'll know how to find the Perseids radiant.

  • The Meteor Coloring Book -- Students can color original art by Duane Hilton as they follow along with this week's lessons.

    ...and more!

    Please visit Thursday's Classroom

    NASA Science News for August 08, 2000

    The Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12, 2000. This year the bright, nearly-full Moon will outshine the Perseids most of the night, but for an hour between moonset and sunrise on Saturday morning, star gazers could witness a brief but beautiful meteor shower. The setting Moon may put on a show of its own Saturday. Wildfires and dust storms have filled parts of our atmosphere with aerosols. A low-hanging Moon seen through such dusty air can take on a beautiful pink or orange hue.

    Full story.

    The Perseids Contend With A Bright Moon This Weekend

    The annual Perseid meteor shower will reach maximum activity Saturday morning August 12. Unfortunately the waxing gibbous moon will not set until an hour or two before dawn. This will only allow a small window of opportunity to view the display at its best.

    The circumstances will favor those living in the northern latitudes. From the equatorial regions southward the moon will be higher in the sky plus the Perseid radiant will not rise very high into their northern sky. The further north one is located the moon will set earlier and the radiant will be located higher in the sky. Unfortunately the further north one is located the earlier the sun rises. For this reason the north tropical will probably be the best location for this years display.

    The Perseid radiant, the area of the sky where the Perseid meteors appear from, is located in extreme northwestern Perseus near the famous "Double Cluster". These star clusters are visible to the naked eye under ideal conditions as a faint fuzzy patch located between the bright constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus. This area of the sky lies close to the northern horizon at dusk and slowly rises high into the northeastern sky as the night progresses. At dawn it is located high in the northern sky.

    On the morning of the 12th many Perseid meteors will be obscured by the bright moon until late in the morning after moonset. Once the moon has set one can expect to see between 25 and 50 Perseid meteors per hour, depending on the level of local light pollution.

    Perseid meteors can be seen in any portion of the sky. The best rates will occur when one faces toward the northeast quadrant of the sky, especially if the moon is still present.

    Sky & Telescope and the International Meteor Organization are interested in your Perseid counts. The basic information needed is your location, the time you watched, the number of Perseids seen, the number of other meteors seen, and the sky conditions (clouds, limiting magnitude). You may also try to estimate the brightness of each meteor by comparing it to stars of a known magnitude. Reports can be sent to me at: and to Sky & Telescope at:

    For more information on observing meteors visit the Sky & Telescope Web Sky & Telescope Web pages.

    A weekly preview of meteor activity is also published each Thursday at:

    Clear Skies!

    Robert Lunsford
    Secretary General of the International Meteor Organization
    Visual Meteor Program Coordinator of the American Meteor Society

    Weak Impact: The 1998 Perseid Meteor Shower

    August 6, 1998

    The 1998 Perseid Meteor Shower

    On July 27th the Earth, on its year-long trip around the Sun, entered the debris stream from periodic comet Swift-Tuttle. The result is the annual meteor shower called "The Perseids," expected to peak on August 12th. While nowhere near as devastating as the popular movies of this summer, the Perseids often provide an equally spectacular show. Learn more about how to view the Perseids from your backyard, the hazards of meteor impacts, and radio meteors.

    Additinal information on the Perseids:

    Woensdagavond 12 augustus ontmoet de aarde de hoofdmacht van de Perse´den: een meteorenzwerm waarvan de radiant (het vluchtpunt van waaruit de meteoren lijken weg te schieten aan de hemel) gelegen is in het sterrenbeeld Perseus.

    Het maximum van de Perse´den vindt dit jaar plaats op 12 augustus om 23 h Nederlandse tijd. De activiteit van de meteorenzwerm kan echter al vier uur eerder oplopen. De maan is tussen vol en Laatste Kwartier en zal dus zeker na middernacht storen.

    De afgelopen jaren waren tijdens het maximum zo'n 150 - 400 meteoren per uur te zien. Overigens zijn de Perse´den een aantal weken actief, van omstreeks 15 juli tot 20 augustus.

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