21 June 2011
We have a lot to look forward to this summer. Warm weather, vacations, gatherings ... Just don't forget to look up.
Full of so many wondrous things, the night sky is particularly entertaining this time of year. You can enjoy your own "space-show" by watching a meteor shower this summer.
When comets come around the sun they leave a dusty trail of bits. These "bits" are potential meteors. Every year the Earth passes through the comet trails, which allows the bits to enter our atmosphere where they burn up and create fiery and colorful streaks -- much like distant fireworks -- in the sky.
On any given night several shooting stars, or meteors, per hour can usually be seen blazing across our sky, but there are some heavier actual storms coming your way this summer, particularly the Perseids in mid-August. You can also view the Delta Aquarids, which will peak 28 - 29 July, and the Capricornids 29 - 30 July. The Perseids will peak (with about 60 meteors per hour!) 12 - 13 August. Although be aware that coinciding with the Perseids peak this year is a full Moon, so you may want to start watching for the Perseids when you are viewing the Delta Aquarids. There won't be as many then, but they will have started and it should still be a good show.
Look below for some great shots of meteors and consider taking your own sky photography of your meteor viewing experience. (7 images total)