“It’s an ideal time to see as many shooting stars as possible. On the nights from August 12 to 14, there are very good conditions because the moon phase is favorable, so the bright moonlight does not disturb the observations,” Michael Jagger explains in an interview with noe.ORF.at.
Up to 100 bright stars per hour can be seen in the sky on these nights – preferably between 10 p.m. and dawn – “however, really dark skies are necessary.” According to the Lower Austrian astronomer and astrophotographer, anyone who looks up at the sky in high mountains, for example, has the best chances.
But even those who don’t want to climb higher to watch the shooting stars have a good chance of seeing Perseid rain. “I think you can feel good if you see a meteor every two to three minutes. Maybe sometimes there are two bright stars shooting across the night sky one after the other at about the same time,” says Jäger.
The name comes from the constellation Perseus
In mid-August, Earth always crosses the orbit of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, whose dusty trail produces the stellar rain of Perseid. This is caused by dust grains hitting the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 60 kilometers per second. There they vaporize at high altitudes, causing the air behind them to glow. The name “Perseids” comes from the fact that the stars appear to fall from the constellation Perseus.
The meteor shower is also called the “Tears of Laurentius” because its appearance coincides with the name of the day of the martyr Laurentius on August 10 and was interpreted as tears from heaven for his martyrdom. The constellation rises in the late northeast evening in mid-August and climbs into the eastern half of the sky at dawn.
Waldviertel: A new comet has been discovered
Last year, Michael Jäger succeeded in discovering a new comet at the Astronomical Research Center in Martinsberg (Zwettl district). The comet, called “157 P Tritton – B”, is located 200 million km from Earth and is barely more than 100 meters across.
The astrophotographer has sent the comet’s position data to the Minor Planet Center in the USA. There the discovery of “157 P – Tritton B” was officially announced – more on this in Hobbyasteronomer Comets Discovered (noe.ORF.at, 10/06/22).
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