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Perseid meteor shower to be best seen on August 13 over Atlantic

August 12, 2015, 2:02 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG
People living in Europe’s westernmost extremity will be able to see the beginning of the Perseids’ peak and those in North America’s eastern coast - the end of the show
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© AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis

ST. PETERSBURG, August 11. /TASS/. A spectacular meteor shower, the Perseids, will be best seen this year in the Atlantic, a Russian amateur astronomer told TASS on Tuesday.

"The meteor shower will reach its peak from 04:30 to 17:00 Moscow time on August 13. It will be night hours only in the Atlantic," Mikhail Maslov, an administrator of the International Meteor Organization (IMO), said, adding that passengers onboard trans-Atlantic ships and aircraft would have an opportunity to enjoy this spectacular view, with more than 100 meteors seen per hour.

People living in Europe’s westernmost extremity will be able to see the beginning of the Perseids’ peak and those in North America’s eastern coast - the end of the show. Residents of the European part of Russia will be able to enjoy only 80% of the peaking meteor shower, if the sky is cloudless.

This year, the intensity of the Perseids is expected to be higher than usual. The meteor shower is expected to peak on August 12-13 with up to 120 meteors seen per hour. This year and in the following two years, the part of the meteor shower that encounters the Earth is 'pushed' by Jupiter’s gravity field towards our planet.

A new moon on August 14 will make the sight still more spectacular, since there will be no moonlight to interfere a couple of days before and after it.

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 135 years. The comet is to approach the Earth to the closest distance of 0.15 astronomical units (about 23 million kilometres) in 2126.

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