Every year in summer, a true spectacle appears in the night sky: the Perseids. Sometimes shooting stars can be seen every minute. The reason is the debris cloud of a comet, which crosses the earth. But this year the moon steals the show from the meteor shower.
Every summer, on its way around the sun, the earth rushes into a field of debris that a comet once left on its way. The small and larger dust particles then penetrate the earth's atmosphere at more than 200,000 kilometers per hour. This creates extreme friction, the particles burn up and can be seen in the sky as shooting stars. Since these then occur more frequently, one speaks of a meteor shower.
In the coming days, there will be many shooting stars in the night sky again. They come from the debris trail of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. And because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus when viewed from Earth, they are called Perseids. As the week progresses, the falling star rain will continue to increase in intensity.
"The Perseids reach their theoretical peak in the early morning of August 13 at around 3 a.m.," said Sven Melchert, chairman. In order to see the swarm of the Perseids, onlookers should look east, according to the Association of Star Friends in Germany. Stargazers can typically see about 30 to 50 meteors per hour - that's up to one meteor per minute.
The best viewing time is from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. The weather should also play along, says ntv weather expert Björn Alexander: "Basically, the prospects in terms of weather are good to very good." Cloud fields could occasionally pass through this week. "The majority of the nights, however, are widely cloudy to clear and mild."
However, the moon is putting a spanner in the works this year: the full moon is on August 12 of all days and is still in the sky during the ideal observation time. Because the full moon lights up the sky so brightly, only the brightest specimens of the Perseids will be visible.
According to the star friends, comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle was discovered independently by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle on July 19, 1862 and takes around 133 years to orbit the sun. It should next be visible from Earth in 2126.
(This article was first published on Monday, August 08, 2022.)