Shooting Star Fireworks Tonight: The Summer Sky Highlight | life & knowledge

The sky highlight of summer |

Shooting Star Fireworks Tonight!

For astro fans there is the sky highlight of the summer in August: the shooting star fireworks of the Perseids.

The problem this year: Almost at the same time as the maximum of the meteor shower, there is a large and bright supermoon in the sky. It outshines the cosmic tracers like a big spotlight. That’s why the best chance of spotting shooting stars is at the beginning of the month.

Since the nights in August are getting darker again and the time of eternal twilight is also coming to an end in northern Germany, there are actually good conditions for observing shooting stars.

“However, the Perseid meteor shower reaches its maximum shortly after midnight on August 12/13,” says Prof. Thomas W. Kraupe, astrophysicist and director of the Planetarium Hamburg. “The timing could hardly be worse, because in the morning hours of August 12th our satellite is in the firmament as a full moon. And because it’s near Earth, it’s extra large and bright.”

The August full moon is the last in a series of four super moons that began in May. Full moons that occur close to the earth are called super moons. In astronomy, the term perigee is used when the moon is at its closest point in its orbit around our planet. While in July there were just under ten hours between perigee and full moon, in August it is already around 32.5 hours.

“Nevertheless, this full moon appears larger and brighter than usual. A full moon close to Earth can be up to 17 percent larger than one farther away,” explains Prof. Kraupe. “To illustrate the difference, a two-euro coin can be compared to a one-euro coin. It can also be up to 30 percent brighter than one that is farther away – extremely unfavorable for observing shooting stars.”

Those who are interested play into the cards that the apparent radiating point and namesake of the Perseids is in the constellation Perseus. This is only higher in the sky after midnight, so that is when most of the shooting stars show up.

Best chances on the night of August 7th

On the night of August 6th to 7th, the moon sets at midnight. Therefore, until dawn, night owls have a promising chance of spotting shooting stars. “It is important to go to a dark place away from the lights of the city and to give your eyes a good 20 minutes to get used to the light conditions at night,” Prof. Kraupe continues.

The time window for sighting the Perseids is getting smaller and smaller. Already on August 8th the moon does not set until around 12:30 a.m., on August 9th at 1:20 a.m. and on August 10th at 2:30 a.m. And dawn begins around 3:30 a.m. – these are rounded times for the Hamburg area. If you want to spot a few more Perseids, use today’s or tomorrow’s night.

“The Perseids are burning up particles from the comet Swift-Tuttle, whose ‘crossroads of dust particles’ cross the earth every year in August,” adds Prof. Kraupe. “They crash into Earth’s atmosphere and burn up 70 to 100 kilometers above our heads to form cosmic trails that we know as shooting stars.” (rob, Planetarium Hamburg)



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