21 Precious Perseids viewing pleasure
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My observing location for the 2017 Perseids was flanked toward the east by a large stony hill. Towards the west  the Atlantic Ocean and to both the south and north by fields of sheep. All week the forecast was less than favourable. It was a treat to have a relatively clear sky. Between local time 22:40 ( 21:40UT) and 23:35 ( 22:35UT) I observed 19 beautiful Perseids. Two white ones to start then a stunning blue mag 3 which spanned the width of Ursa Major. The vast majority were white with the occasional dim red Perseid zipping in from the direction of Perseus. Several of the white variety matched magnitudes of 2 + similar in brightness to many ISS passes. Some of them entered directly overhead, they spurted and spluttered their smoky trails just in case they were not noticed. On this occasion, I did not create a drawing, but simply enjoyed watching the show. The Milky way became increasingly … Continue reading

In the Sky This Week – August 8, 2017
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Venus is a bit lower in the eastern predawn sky, and Orion is fully visible now before sunrise. The waxing gibbous Moon, just days after full,  rises in the east with the sunset, and sets in the west with at dawn. Jupiter is low in the western sky, and visible for only a short time. Saturn is high in the southern sky after sunset, and sets about 2:00 AM. The Perseid Meteor shower peaks the evening of August 11-12th; the Moon will be at Third-Quarter on August 14th. Apps used for this post: Stellarium: a free open source planetarium app for PC/MAC/Linux. NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission app – free for the PC /MAC. Also in In the Sky This Week Weekly post on what you can see in the sky. In the Sky This Week – June 22, 2017 In the Sky This Week – June 27, 2017 In the Sky This … Continue reading

Perseid Meteor Shower 2017: Aug. 11-12
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The Perseid meteor shower is a very popular annual event, with Perseid parties being held around the globe each year. Best seen from the northern hemisphere, the meteors will appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus – between the “W” of the constellation Cassiopeia, and the bright star Capella (see image above). Every year I see posts about this year’s shower being the “shower of the century” or it will be the “brightest shower in the recorded human history!” I’m not so sure about that this year… although the Perseids typically puts on a pretty good show at about 100 per hour, the waning gibbous Moon will be bright, and just to the east of the radiant; this will obscure many of the dimmer meteors. Peak: August 11-12 Active from: July 13th to August 26th Radiant: 03:12 +57.6° (see image above) Hourly Rate: 100 Velocity: 37 miles/sec (swift – 60km/sec) Parent Object: 109P/Swift-Tuttle Source: American Meteor Society … Continue reading

Get ready the Perseids are coming
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About 30 years ago we had a holiday in a remote location in the West of Ireland. The house was high on a grassy ridge on Bolus Head looking over St Finian’s Bay in Co Kerry. From this vantage point the 350 million year old Skellig Rocks rose like stegosaurus plates from the Atlantic Ocean. They were 16 kilometres out to sea but their jagged presence dominated the view to the South. It was early August and when darkness fell the predictable blinking of a distant lighthouse was the only manmade object discernible at sea level in the blackness. One moonless evening, the sky was crystal clear, the summer triangle was dramatically intersected by our galaxy’s river of stars, so much more touchable than the suburban view. I lay on the sun dried grass looking for Perseids, one, two, three, four, five, six, plus several in the corner of my eye within a few minutes. Time to take action, I … Continue reading