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Swift-Tuttle meteor shower twice as active this year under Jupiter’s influence

August 26, 2016, 2:33 UTC+3 St PETERSBURG

This year, it could be observed from mid-July through to August 25

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© Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

St PETERSBURG, August 26. /TASS/. The period of activity of the Perseids meteor shower is over. This year, it could be observed from mid-July through to August 25 and was twice as active as usual, an administrator of the International Meteor Organization (IMO) told TASS.

The intensity of the meteor stream redoubled this year under the gravitational influence of Jupiter, deflecting it towards the Earth, said Mikhail Maslov, the administrator who is also a leading engineer at Novosibirsk State University.

"Observations showed that the activity was twice as intense as usually," he said. "It reached 200 meteors an hour at its peak, while our forecast was for 150 meteors an hour. The typical rate is about 100 meteors."

Observers working for the IMO Video Meteor Network forecasted three peaks of activity on August 11 and August 12 - between 22:24 and 22:34 GMT, at around 05:00 hours GMT, as well as between 12:00 hours and 13:00 hours GMT.

"The forecast for the timing of the first peak proved to be correct by the intensity of the stream appeared to be underrated," Maslov said. "We expected about 130 meteors an hour and they came at a rate of about 200."

The data was obtained on the basis of reports from 254 observers in 39 countries, including seven observers in Russia.

The first maximum was formed by two trails of the comet Swift-Tuttle that appeared in 1479 and in 1862 when it passed close to the Sun and emitted masses of cometary matter.

During the second peak that occurred at 05:00 hours GMT on August 12 and that is linked to the trail formed by the comet Swift-Tuttle in 1079 the Perseids activity reached 150 meteors an hour.

"However, the profile of activity during the second maximum is less clear because less data was gathered on it," Maslov said. "Most observers are based in Europe, while the second peak of activity occurred when the night in Europe had been over."

The third - residual - maximum was also somewhat denser than usual, with 130 meteors per hour registered versus the typical 90 to 100 meteors.

This was a second year on end when forecasts for an intensified activity of the Perseids under Jupiter’s influence were made. Last year, the rate of the meteor shower was not significantly bigger than the habitual one but this year it exceeded to forecast parameters.

Gravitational forces of the largest planet in the Solar System changed the trajectory of the meteor stream and shifted it towards the Earth, thus increasing the number of meteors that got into the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Perseids is one of the most ancient known meteor showers. It arises from the Earth’s passage through the trail of dust particles emitted by the comet Swift-Tuttle.

The miniscule particles the size of a grain of sand burn in the terrestrial atmosphere, thus producing a star shower.

The IMO Video Meteor Network gathers and summarizes the data on observation of meteor showers from about several hundred observers in various corners of the globe.

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