Delhi’s overcast sky may obscure meteor showerAugust 12th, 2010 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) The capital’s cloudy sky may act as a spoilsport for those looking forward to gaze at the night sky streaked with light in a celestial spectacle of the Perseid meteor shower Thursday.
If the cloud cover remains, skygazers will miss out on the spectacle of over 100 sparkling meteors, supposed to occur around 2 a.m. Friday. The shooting stars will last for a fraction of a second and will almost be as bright as most stars.
“The cloudy sky will make it difficult for the viewing of the meteor shower and it can disappoint the people. But still, they can take a chance between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.,” N.S. Raghunandan Kumar of the Planetary Society, India, told IANS.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between July 25 and Aug 18, with a peak on Aug 12. It has its origin in the constellation Perseus.
“The thin, crescent moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. The monsoon clouds, however, may spoil the show,” Science Popularisation Association of Communicators & Educators (SPACE) director Chandra Bhushan Devgun said.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast overcast skies and more rains later in the day.
As comets move about their orbits, they leave a trail of dusty and rocky debris. When the Earth passes through the comets’ orbit, the debris is attracted towards it because of gravity and burns due to the friction experienced during entry into the atmosphere, leading to a meteor shower.
No telescopes or binoculars are required for watching the meteor shower.
The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the comet stretches all the way back to the Earth.
Records of Perseid’s activity date back to 36 AD. In 1839, German astronomer Eduard Heis became the first to take a meteor count and discovered that Perseid had a maximum rate of around 160 meteors per hour.
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