Starry Nights: Here’s how to observe the shower of shooting stars from the Perseids on Thursday night

Starry Nights: Here’s how to observe the shower of shooting stars from the Perseids on Thursday night

This year, Maximum Perseid occurs from August 11th to 13th. With favorable viewing conditions, viewers can catch up to 110 shooting stars per hour.

Like every year, enthusiasts will be able to take in the sights of the Perseids and their rain of shooting stars, during Starry Nights, which take place August 11-13. Visible to the naked eye, it looks promising because the moon is out for much of the night.

specks of dust

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What we call a “shooting star” … actually has nothing to do with the star. These are meteorites: debris of dust and pebbles ranging in size from a few tenths of a millimeter to 1 or 2 centimeters across, about the size of a grain of rice.

Comets leave this debris behind as they pass close to Earth’s orbit. At certain times of the year, our planet passes through them. Heating of this dust on contact with the atmosphere (85-120 km altitude) causes these bright trails that can be seen in the night sky.

This is particularly the case in August, when you can see the most famous of the showers of shooting stars, the Perseids. But there are other meteor showers throughout the year.

How to benefit

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The name “Perseids” wasn’t chosen randomly: it comes from the fact that the meteors appear to come visually from the direction of the constellation Perseus. This makes it possible to know in which direction to look: the constellation rises in the northeast around 10:30 pm, below Cassiopeia (a W-shaped constellation).

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The period when this “rain” is observed is from the middle of July until the third week of August. The time when you can see the most shooting stars is between August 10 and 15 each year. However, you must have an eye. The flash lasts for a split second and, depending on the size of the dust, is very invisible. But between August 11 and 13, between 70 and 110 shooting stars occur per hour, or more than one star per minute.

Shooting stars

This year, viewing conditions are very favorable. The moon rises between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and diminishes the note a bit because it appears as a crescent moon near the new moon. The scenery is even more impressive if one moves away from the cities and their light pollution.

Many societies are organizing public observations this weekend on the occasion of Starry Nights. To find out the closest to you, visitAfa (French Astronomy Association).

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