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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks August 12-13

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#1 Centaur

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 06:32 PM

The Perseid Meteor Shower is usually each year’s most prolific and is already underway. The 2014 peak is expected during the night of August 12-13.

 

The Perseids are remnants of the periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle. Their radiant is in the northern constellation Perseus. That is the constellation toward which their tails point, but the meteors can be seen anywhere in your sky.

 

Sharp eyed observers often spot about sixty Perseids per hour. Although this year a waning gibbous Moon may provide some interference. Observation can begin after Perseus rises during the early evening for observers north of the tropics, and gets progressively better after local midnight.

 

My timetable for this decade’s major meteor showers, including lunar illumination, can be found at www.CurtRenz.com/asteroids

 

Descriptions and perhaps lucky photos of the Perseids would be welcome additions to this thread.

 



#2 Chuck Hards

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:15 AM

I've seen early Perseids almost every morning that has been clear over the past week.  I wake up at 3:30 to 4:00 AM and always check the sky for a few minutes around 5:00 to 5:30 AM.  Usually just a few minutes of watching has yielded a Perseid (as well as a couple of sporadics that were much dimmer).

 

Even though the moon will wash-out the fainter meteors, judging by the number of early arrivals I have seen, there should be plenty of bright ones.  I may get up extra early for the next couple of days and give it a go.



#3 magic612

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:24 AM

The Perseids are the one astronomy event when my family joins me outside and shares the night sky together. Sadly, it's not likely to happen this year, not because of the Moon, but the same weather forecast Curt likely has (he's just a bit north of me). 

 

Lately forecasts have been something like this: "Cloudy, with a high percentage of clouds, later on moving to mostly cloudy, and ending the day with some scattered cloudiness underneath an enormous hazy cloud."

 

:( 

 

So yeah. Oh well. 



#4 Chuck Hards

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:28 AM

We've been in a summer monsoon pattern here for a while now.  It clouds up and sometimes rains virtually every afternoon.  But it typically clears, or at least partially clears, by early morning, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed even though the local forecast is lousy for Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

At least I can say that I've seen some Perseids this year, if the peak is totally obscured.



#5 combatdad

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:41 AM

Looks like we may get a break Thursday morning here in my part of Virginia, but got out this morning and had about an hour of partially clear skies between 4:30 and 5:30 A.M.  Observed a Perseid every few minutes even in my LP environment.  Planning to get out to a darker sky area early Thursday morning...have my fingers crossed that the weather holds.

 

Dave



#6 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 10:56 AM

I spent an hour in my red zone backyard early this morning. The so-called Supermoon lit up the sky in a ferocious fashion.  I could barely see the Pleiades naked-eye. M31 was exceedingly dim through my Celestron 8x42s and M34 was completely invisible.  

 

Facing east, my total Perseid count was a big, fat zero. 

 

I did see a tumbling satellite that flashed rather brightly at least four times before it disappeared from view behind my house shortly after 4:40 a.m. EDT.

 

Dave Mitsky



#7 ensign

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 11:04 AM

Figures that our forecast is for rain, clouds and more clouds.  What clear skies we've had this summer have been clobbered by either the full moon or smoke high in the atmosphere from forest fires thousands of miles away. :mad:



#8 Centaur

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 01:57 PM

I've seen early Perseids almost every morning that has been clear over the past week.  I wake up at 3:30 to 4:00 AM and always check the sky for a few minutes around 5:00 to 5:30 AM.  Usually just a few minutes of watching has yielded a Perseid (as well as a couple of sporadics that were much dimmer).

 

Even though the moon will wash-out the fainter meteors, judging by the number of early arrivals I have seen, there should be plenty of bright ones.  I may get up extra early for the next couple of days and give it a go.

Thanks for your Perseids report, Chuck. The Moon should be less of a hindrance as we move past the "oppositional flash" of the Full Moon. The Perseids are expected to peak tomorrow night. The waning gibbous Moon may be somewhat of a hindrance, but far less than last night.



#9 krp

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 02:29 AM

I just stepped in after watching for some meteors from my backyard (orange zone). I saw at least 9 meteors in 40 minutes. 2 of them were bright enough to leave trains for a few seconds. I need to decide where to go tomorrow night when there will be even more.



#10 schang

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 05:52 AM

 

I did see a tumbling satellite that flashed rather brightly at least four times before it disappeared from view behind my house shortly after 4:40 a.m. EDT, .

 

Dave Mitsky

I saw one like that a few months ago, when I thought it was a meteor.  The idea of a tumbling satellite never crossed my mind...



#11 seawolfe

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 06:10 AM

Despite the nearly full Moon, Saturday night, I saw a couple of meteors AND the ISS fly over.  Not bad for a night when the Moon can cast a shadow.  :grin:



#12 Chuck Hards

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 06:40 AM

50% to 70% cloud cover early this morning.  Not one meteor, not even a sporadic.  I'll try again tomorrow morning.



#13 Chuck Hards

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 08:36 AM

Apropos this thread, check out the Google logo today:

 

https://www.google.c...Cw&ved=0CBkQ1S4



#14 BrooksObs

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 08:47 AM

"Sharp eyed observers often spot about sixty Perseids per hour. Although this year a waning gibbous Moon may provide some interference. Observation can begin after Perseus rises during the early evening for observers north of the tropics, and gets progressively better after local midnight."

 

Just a comment, or two, is in order addressing perdicted meteor shower rates in general these days.

 

Years back we traditionally saw the Perseids listed as generating around 60 meteors per hour. However, modern figures have pushed that rate upwards to 120 and even 150 per hour. Such numbers always appear in the news releases aimed at the general public nowadays and even on forums almost universally without explanation of what the numbers honestly are based upon. In years now long gone by at least most astronomy enthusiasts understood that such numbers were "theoretical" rates, not actual observer reported numbers, arrived at only after significant "corrections" had been applied to the raw numbers adjusting for radiant altitude, sky conditions, the amount of sky that might be obscured to the observer, etc. Notation that shower rates include such potentially dramatic adjustment and don't truly reflect what the casual observer is likely to see himself is almost universally absent from news stories and posts today. Only the "corrected" rates appear.

 

Compounding the situation today is the fact that even more inflated figures are employed by the IMO that have so many "new" even more extreme corrections applied to them (IMO figures are corrected to the situation of a theoretical observer who is watching under Bortle Class 1 perfect skies, who possesses near superhuman vision, and has the radiant at his zenith) that in my opinion the numbers pretty much lose all meaning for the potential observer. To put the deviation from reality into perspective, although the IMO numbers might indicate the Perseid display as say 120 meteors per hour, the average urban, or semi-rural, casual observer enduring perhaps some modest light pollution but no moonlight interference, while looking when the Perseid radiant is near an altitude of 30-40 degrees above his horizon, would be fortunate most years to catch 15-30 meteors in the course of a full hour. Now, of course, variations in observer visual acuity, experience and certainly the prevailing sky conditions can generate a wide range in such numbers, but rare have been the years that I've personally seen more than 40 Perseids per hour under really good skies (with perhaps a rare peak year where the rate climbed to near 50-70 per hour in the intense showers of the 1990's). 

 

I consider it most unfortunate that announcements addressing meteor showers - particularly in regard to much less active annual showers than the Perseids I see often hyped on the AOL newsfeed, etc. - are issued to the general public as "don't miss this" events nowadays. But perhaps everything needs to be bigger, better and with absolutely no hope of actually coming to pass today just to grab folk's interest for a moment...so let's bring on the ISON meteor storms!  

 

BrooksObs 


Edited by BrooksObs, 12 August 2014 - 11:36 AM.


#15 steveyo

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 12:43 PM

It's going to be hard to spot anything tonight, through the forecasted "heavy rain" we're about to enjoy.



#16 WesC

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 02:02 PM

I consider it most unfortunate that announcements addressing meteor showers - particularly in regard to much less active annual showers than the Perseids I see often hyped on the AOL newsfeed, etc. - are issued to the general public as "don't miss this" events nowadays.

 

 

AOL newsfeeds? Whut? I actually had to go and look that up to see that it actually still exists. I took a look at the kinds of "news" stories on there... typical tabloid trash.  LOL!

 

Getting ones news, science or otherwise, from the likes of AOL, Yahoo, HuffPo... well you deserve what you get. ;)

 

No reflection on you Brooks... just amazed that's still around.



#17 TCW

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 06:12 PM

Things are looking grim in Kalifornia with considerable cloud cover.



#18 David Knisely

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Posted 12 August 2014 - 06:55 PM

"Sharp eyed observers often spot about sixty Perseids per hour. Although this year a waning gibbous Moon may provide some interference. Observation can begin after Perseus rises during the early evening for observers north of the tropics, and gets progressively better after local midnight."

 

Just a comment, or two, is in order addressing perdicted meteor shower rates in general these days.

 

Years back we traditionally saw the Perseids listed as generating around 60 meteors per hour. However, modern figures have pushed that rate upwards to 120 and even 150 per hour. Such numbers always appear in the news releases aimed that the general public nowadays and even on forums, almost universally without explanation of what the numbers honestly are based upon. At least in years long gone by most astronomy enthusiasts understood that such numbers were "theoretical" rates, not actual observer reported numbers, arrived at only after significant correction had been applied to the raw numbers adjusting for radiant altitude, sky conditions, the amount of sky that might be obscured to the observer, etc. Notation that shower rates include such potentially dramatic adjustment and don't truly reflect what the casual observer is likely to see himself is almost universally absent from news stories and posts today. Only the "corrected" rates appear.

 

Compounding the situation today is the fact that even more inflated figures are employed by the IMO that have so many "new" even more extreme corrections applied to them (IMO figures are corrected to the situation of a theoretical observer who is watching under Bortle Class 1 perfect skies, who possesses near superhuman vision, and has the radiant at his zenith) that in my opinion the numbers pretty much lose all meaning for the potential observer. To put the deviation from reality into perspective, although the IMO numbers might indicate the Perseid display as say 120 meteors per hour, the average urban, or semi-rural, casual observer enduring perhaps some modest light pollution but no moonlight interference, while looking when the Perseid radiant is near an altitude of 30-40 degrees above his horizon, would be fortunate most years to catch 15-30 meteors in the course of a full hour. Now, of course, variations in observer visual acuity, experience and certainly the prevailing sky conditions can generate a wide range in such numbers, but rare have been the years that I've personally seen more than 40 Perseids per hour under really good skies (with perhaps a rare peak year where the rate climbed to near 50-70 per hour in the intense showers of the 1990's). 

 

I consider it most unfortunate that announcements addressing meteor showers - particularly in regard to much less active annual showers than the Perseids I see often hyped on the AOL newsfeed, etc. - are issued to the general public as "don't miss this" events nowadays. But perhaps everything needs to be bigger, better and with absolutely no hope of actually coming to pass today just to grab folk's interest for a moment...so let's bring on the ISON meteor storms!  

 

BrooksObs 

 

While it is unfortunate that the IMO people (and some others) sometimes refer to somewhat "inflated" numbers for ZHR figures when speaking to the public, there have indeed been times when I have seen the Perseid rates approach those numbers.  Normally, when I viewed them on a good dark night near the peak, the numbers are in the 45 to 70 meteors per hour range, but a few years did have those numbers notably exceeded.  In 1982, I managed to see about 119 of them in a single hour, and in 1993, that number jumped to around 130 per hour between 3 and 4 a.m. local time.   Note that these are *actual* single observer figures that have not been "corrected" or manipulated in any way.   What we will see this year is anybody's guess, but due to the moon interfering, I don't expect to see any more than 15 to 30 per hour, although on my way home at around midnight last night, I did see a nice one in the southern sky despite the moon being high in the southeast.  Clear skies to you.



#19 youngamateur42

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 01:00 AM

It's going to be hard to spot anything tonight, through the forecasted "heavy rain" we're about to enjoy.

But, your still seeing a type of shower ;)



#20 pepit

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 01:10 AM

From 1pm to 2pm EET I looked towards the south to try to see as many meteors as I could. In total, I saw 9, a few of which were very bright and showed long tails. I was surprised at the number of meteors visible, considering the glare of the high full Moon.

 

I'm happy with my first successful meteor observing :D


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#21 Chuck Hards

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 06:55 AM

A high cirrus covered the entire sky this morning, with a very bright ring around the moon.  I managed only a single Perseid between 5 and 6 AM MDT, that could make itself known through the clouds.  About second magnitude, just east of Auriga.  



#22 combatdad

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 07:24 AM

The skies finally cleared late this morning to give some nice viewing from 4:00 - 5:30 a.m.  Observed about twenty or so bright Perseids, the first at 4:09 and the last at 5:17 a.m.  That last left a beautiful trail!

 

Dave


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#23 thgr8houdini

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:30 AM

Was able to see some pretty spectacular ones last night as the moon was on the rise!



#24 Special Ed

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 08:47 AM

I was out this morning between 4:15 and 5:30 AM EDT.  The sky was about 5/10 cloudy but they were moving fast with big gaps in them so holes would open and close and reopen in short order.  Even so, I saw only one Perseid.



#25 BrooksObs

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Posted 13 August 2014 - 09:38 AM

Dave, while I won't question the number of Perseids you cite as having seen in a couple of long ago displays, I still hasten to point out that your particular situation differed markedly from that of the typical hobbyist and even more-so from the layman. Clearly you have been an experienced observer for many years and know where to go and the observing techniques involved. Likewise, you must have been out on the nights of peak Perseid activity (likely with the true peak occurring near your longitude) to gain those high rates. Given your listed home location, it is also very likely you were observing under skies far superior to those experienced by the average enthusiast here on CN. If you recall, an informal poll regarding posters' sky conditions was held here on CN a while back. It revealed that few of the many thread responders enjoyed skies even as dark as Bortle Class 6, most enduring decidedly worse. Such light pollution severely impacts the number of meteors that the would-be novice observer, or layman, might hope detect.

 

In conjunction with that, a very rapidly moving faint object is much more difficult to detect near the limit of vision than a stationary one, even more-so in a bright sky. This implies that under say a Bortle Class 6 sky it is unlikely that the observer will detect more than a few meteors fainter than magnitude +3.5 or +4.0 on even a totally moonless night, especially if the radiant is quite low. Given that the brightness distribution of meteors in a shower generally doubles their numbers for each one magnitude fainter you go this further infers that a person under the sky conditions indicated above fails to see at least 75% , potentially even more, of the meteors visible in a reasonably good sky! So, your reported rates might well be 5x-10x greater than would be the case for the average CN observer - worse yet in the case of the layman!

 

Also overlooked in most overly-hyped announcements concern forthcoming meteor showers is how brief shower peaks often are and that potential rate numbers can be halved within less 6-8 hours either side of peak time, in some instances even much less. And considering that for a given longitude on the Earth a Perseid peak is likely to occur at just the right hour before dawn at your longitude perhaps only once in a decade, even under good skies the odds of seeing high rates won't often favor you.

 

Now I won't go on, but there are numerous further variables which impact observed meteor shower rates, each decreasing the number of meteors the observer might potentially see. I suppose that for some simply going out and spotting a few bright meteors over the course of an hour, or so, on a shower night may be found rewarding. However, a broadly based public announcement, one presenting already highly unrealistic rates, saying that you can go out this weekend and see a meteor shower with  an appearance rate of 50 (75) (100+) per hour simply by looking up, I have to regard that as downright deceptive and misleading for the casual hobbyists and general public, in the end not instilling much in the way of confidence in what those supposedly knowledgeable in the subject have to say, nor encouraging them to join in.

 

 BrooksObs


Edited by BrooksObs, 13 August 2014 - 04:07 PM.







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