MOSCOW, August 2. /TASS/. People living in the Northern Hemisphere, including residents of the European part of Russia and the city of Moscow, will be able to enjoy a spectacular meteor shower, the Perseids, in the coming nights, with the meteor shower peaking on August 11 to 13, a spokesperson for the Moscow Planetarium said on Tuesday.
"The meteor shower typically peaks on August 12-13 with up to 100 meteors seen per hour. This year, however the International Meteor Organization expects up to 150 meteors per hour," the spokesperson, adding that the increased activity of the Perseids this year is attributable to the influence of Jupiter whose gravity field ‘pushes’ the meteor shower towards our planet.
No astronomical devices will be needed to admire the spectacular sight, if the sky is cloudless.
An increase in the number of meteors at a particular time of year is called a meteor shower. Comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet's orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Depending on where Earth and the stream meet, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky, maybe within the neighborhood of a constellation.
Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, a spot in the sky astronomers call the radiant. The Perseid meteor shower takes this name from the constellation of Perseus, where meteors appear to fall from.
The Perseids is the most famous of all meteor showers. It never fails to provide an impressive display and, due to its summertime appearance, it tends to provide the majority of meteors seen by non-astronomy enthusiasts. The Preseid intensity varies from year to year. Thus, in the early 1990's the star falls reached the intensity of a real shower at times, as 400 or even more meteor crossed the skies within the space of an hour. In 2000, on the contrary, the star fall never showed up.
The earliest record of Perseid activity comes from the Chinese annals. Numerous references appear in Chinese, Japanese and Korean records throughout the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, but only sporadic references are found between the 12th and 19th centuries, inclusive
The Perseids originate from the Swift-Tuttle Comet that was discovered in 1862 independently by Lewis Swift (July 16) and Horace Tuttle (July 19). Its rotation period around the Sun is 133 years. The comet is to approach the Earth to the closest distance of 0.15 astronomical units (about 23 million kilometres) in 2126.