Friday, July 30, 2004

The 2004 Perseid Meteor Shower: "The annual Perseid meteor shower is coming, and forecasters say it could be unusually good.

"The shower begins, gently, in mid-July when Earth enters the outskirts of a cloud of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Dust-sized meteoroids hitting the atmosphere will streak across the night sky, at first only a sprinkling, just a few each night, but the rate will build.

"By August 12th when the shower peaks, sky watchers can expect to see dozens, possibly even hundreds, of meteors per hour."

"The best time to look for these 'traditional Perseids' is during the hours before dawn on Thursday, August 12th. Set your alarm for 2 o'clock in the morning; go outside; lie down on a sleeping bag with your toes pointed northeast. You'll soon see meteors racing along the Milky Way."

"Can't wake up at 2 a.m.? Try looking around 9 or 10 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 11th when Perseus is hanging low in the eastern sky. You won't see many meteors then, but the ones you do see could be memorable. Shooting stars that emerge from the horizon and streak horizontally through the atmosphere are called 'Earthgrazers.' Slow and colorful Earthgrazers are a good target for city dwellers, because they are so bright."

"Enjoy the show. Perseids are harmless … and beautiful. This is an unusually good year to see for yourself."

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