SHOOTING STARS. The month of August and its clear skies are favorable for observing shooting stars. The peak observation of the Perseids took place on the night of Friday the 12th to Saturday the 13th of August. However, the shower of shooting stars continues for a few days.
[Mis à jour le 13 août 2022 à 20h40] The Perseids are not finished yet for 2022! Every year, they let you admire the shooting stars in the sky. Every summer, Earth crosses paths with the Perseid swarm, formed by debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. This gives rise to a meteor shower that can be observed this year from July 17 to August 24, with maximum visibility around August 10. In 2022, the best night for observing shooting stars was from Friday, August 12 to Saturday, August 13. However, the showers of shooting stars will continue to be visible on the night of Saturday, August 13 and the following. To see them, you have to settle in a place where the sky is clearly visible, away from light pollution.
After the Night of the Stars last week, the meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye, without special equipment, and this almost until the end of August. However, this year, the observation of the Perseids will be complicated by the full Moon. Arriving on August 11 in the night sky, it will prevent you from seeing as many stars as in other years. The ideal time to see the shooting stars will be at 3 am. To know the times and the observation tips, the meaning of these shooting stars and your next step, discover our archive below!
Composed of remnants of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, the Perseid meteor shower is the most famous of the year because it is one of the most active. This meteor shower in the Perseus constellation lasts from July 17 to August 24, with activity peaking on the night of August 12-13.. It is the most spectacular of all, with its 100 observable shooting stars per hour, or an average of one shooting star per minute!
You have to be awake at the beginning of the night before moonrise, until 3 am, to observe the shooting stars of the Perseids. In fact, moonlight interferes with observations and makes shooting stars invisible. However, if you are observing shooting stars after moonrise, stand with your back to the moon if possible. The brightness should not interfere with the observation of the most visible meteors, especially if you manage to be far from urban centers or points of light. “To observe the shooting stars of the Perseids, it is best to turn to the northeast and observe much of the sky around the Perseus constellation.suggests the site specialized in astronomy Stelvision.
If a shooting star usually lasts only a fraction of a second, it is better to gaze carefully for a good quarter of an hour over a large part of the sky, preferably in complete darkness. Get comfortable on a sun lounger! When you see a meteor, multiply your wishes, a well-known tradition! On your calendars: On the night of Thursday, August 12 to Friday, August 13, the Perseid meteor shower will be at its summer maximum, at 3 am (Paris time) !
Find below all the essential tips for good preparation and good stargazing. Photography buffs will learn all the tricks needed to immortalize these magical celestial ballets.
No danger or need for specific equipment! Shooting stars are visible to the naked eye to everyone. It is not necessary, therefore, to take out the binoculars or the telescope, given the high speed at which the fireballs cross the Earth’s atmosphere (an average of 50 km/second). About a quarter of shooting stars leave visible trails for several seconds. In order to optimally observe a shooting star shower, the sky should not be obscured by clouds or light pollution.
The probability of seeing a shooting star depends mainly on the observation period, although other factors such as the observation area come into play. Shooting stars are actually small dust particles that enter the Earth’s atmosphere very quickly, producing a trail of light visible from Earth. This dust comes from comets that, as they approach the Sun, see their ice evaporate and pulverize very small bits of rock, forming a cloud of small rocky particles. When the Earth passes through these clouds, this dust creates shooting stars that can be seen in the sky.
That’s why you’ll have a higher chance of spotting shooting stars when Earth passes through one of these swarms. This summer you can take advantage of the Perseids whose intensity peak occurs at the beginning of August with a hundred shooting stars per hour. During the Quadratides and the Gemenides, which take place in early January and mid-December respectively, up to 120 shooting stars can be observed per hour.
Finally, viewing conditions can influence the number of shooting stars you’ll see. Give preference to sparsely urbanized areas, protected from light pollution. Try to find a place where the horizon is clear and a cloudless night.
This tradition appears to have its origins in ancient Greece, according to the Huffington Post. At that time, it was thought that the gods looked at the Earth by raising the celestial vault, like a lid over the world. In doing so, they sometimes caused stars to fall: shooting stars. These events were interpreted as the sign that a god was watching the Earth, that is, the best time to send him a wish.
The stellar tradition, which occurs every year in the same period, will be perpetuated, but beware of confusion: obviously it is not a question of a “star” in the strict sense, but of asteroid dust that passes very close to our planet and part of which come into “collision” with the Earth. Shooting stars have nothing to do with stars. It is an extinct comet, or an asteroid that, when moving, leaves behind a large amount of debris.
Luminous phenomena, shooting stars (or meteors) thus appear each time tiny meteorites come into contact with the dense layers of the atmosphere, at speeds ranging between 15 and 70 km per second. Due to the friction of the air, this powder, sometimes more or less large pebbles, becomes incandescent before volatilizing. Electrified in its wake, the air becomes luminescent, giving the impression of persistent streaks that seem to come from the same place in the sky: the constellation Lyra for the Lyrids, Orion for the Orionids, Perseus for the Perseids, Leo for the Leonidas or Geminis for the Geminids…
Several major stellar gatherings of shooting stars take place during the year 2022. This summer, don’t miss out on the phenomenon of perseids observable from July 17 to August 24, 2022, and whose peak of activity takes place on the night of August 12 to 13. Then check out the other most notable meteor showers that appear in the sky throughout the year, in chronological order of appearance below:
- The Orionids: active from September 26 to November 22, they are particularly observable from October 20 to 21, in mid-autumn. Named for the constellation Orion (easy to spot, its seven brightest stars form a bow tie or slightly tilted hourglass!), the Orionids are visible in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. Depending on the year, between 50 and 75 shooting stars pierce the sky every hour.
- The Leonids: Located in the zodiacal constellation of Leo, the Leonids meteor shower appears from November 3 to December 2 with maximum activity from November 17 to 18. If 10 to 20 shooting stars are observed in the sky per hour, every 33 years, the spectacle becomes unforgettable after the passage of comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle: the shower of shooting stars then becomes a storm, with thousands of meteors in one night!
- The Geminids: produced by a celestial object called “3200 Phaethon”, the Geminids would not come from comets, but from asteroids. Active from November 19 to December 24, their activity peak is between December 13 and 14 with an hourly rate of 60 to 75 meteors, or even 120 to 160 meteors per hour at most. To observe them, visualize the constellation of Gemini on the eastern horizon.
- The Ursids: This meteor shower is active from December 13 to 24, associated with comet 8P/Tuttle. The peak of the Ursids occurs just before Christmas on the night of December 21-22. It is of low intensity, with 10 to 20 meteors per hour.
- The Quadrantids: Active during the winter nights between December 26 and January 16, they show a rate of 25 meteors per hour during the night of January 2-3. They originate from sleepy comet 2003 EH1.
- The Lyrids: Located in the constellation of Lyra and active from April 16 to 25, the Lyrids meteor shower reaches its peak on the night of April 21 to 22 each year, with a rate of 5 to 20 observable meteors at weather. It is associated with comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.
- Eta Aquarids: Active from April 19 to May 28, mainly visible in the southern hemisphere, the meteor swarm is powered by Halley’s Comet. Its peak is located on the night of May 4 to 5, with a rate of 30 meteors per hour.
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