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Current Affairs

Perseids meteor shower

Date: 14 August 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

The Perseids meteor shower is going to be active from August 17-26. The annual celestial event is considered the best meteor shower.

 

Background

Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.

 

Details

  • Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.
    When a meteor reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite and a series of meteorites, when encountered at once, is termed as a meteor shower. 

  • As meteors fall towards the Earth, the resistance makes the space rocks extremely hot and, as meteorites pass through the atmosphere, they leave behind streaks of glowing gas that are visible to the observers and not the rock itself.

  • The Perseids meteor shower peaks every year in mid-August. It was first observed over 2,000 years ago. The Perseids occur as the Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. 

  • Every time comets come close to the sun, they leave behind dust that is essentially the debris trail, which the Earth passes through every year as it orbits around the Sun.

  • These meteor showers are best viewed from areas in the Northern Hemisphere in pre-dawn hours. Further, meteors are best visible on a cloudless night, when the sky is visible and when the Moon is not extremely bright.

  • Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities. Pollution and monsoon clouds make the Perseids difficult to view from India.