Thursday, September 23

Perseid rain: where and when to see it?

Perseid rain from the Canary Islands.

Perseid rain from the Canary Islands.

The canal will broadcast this year the maximum of Perseids from the Canary Observatories, with the collaboration of the Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs) project, coordinated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Innovation Service of the Cabildo de La Palma.

The appointment will be the night of August 12 to 13, when the activity of this meteor shower is estimated to reach 100 meteors per hour, the IAC reported on Tuesday.

Included within the dissemination activities of the Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs) project, which studies the impact of light pollution in the natural areas of Macaronesia and ensures the protection of the darkness of its skies, the channel will broadcast this meteor shower live from the Canary Observatories (in Tenerife and La Palma).

With the Perseids the show is assured. Last year we had an activity of 78 meteors per hour, and in 2019 they reached 99. The forecasts for this year are very good, especially if we think that we will be able to see the weakest Perseids thanks to not having the ambient light from the Moon ”, said the coordinator of the EELabs project, Miquel Serra-Ricart.

Fixing the number of meteors per unit of time, that is, the activity of the shower, is very important to scientists because it can help reveal the density of meteoroids in orbit, in this case of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

But for the Perseids of 2021, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have developed a didactic activity so that any citizen can collaborate in these counts under the citizen science project Star Counters.

The guide describes the procedure to follow through mobile applications, so that citizens can participate and understand this astronomical phenomenon, as well as other curiosities of the sky that are described in the guide.

Cloud of dust and rocks

Although the first records of the Perseids date from the year 36, it was not until 1835 that the Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quetelet identified the radiant of this meteor shower (the point in the sky where they appear to be born) in the constellation Perseus, from which are named after him, the IAC reported.

The Perseids, also known as “Tears of Saint Lawrence”, are a Meteor shower originating from the cloud of dust and rocks that Comet Swift-Tuttle it has left in its wake in each of its orbits around the Sun.

Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 130 years or so, was discovered in 1862 and is currently the largest object that periodically approaches Earth, measuring about 26 km in diameter.

Every year the Earth crosses the comet’s trail at this time, and when the small particles that came off it brush the Earth’s atmosphere, the luminous traces that we know as “shooting stars” are produced.

Son small dust particles of different sizes, some smaller than grains of sand, which are detached from comets or asteroids along their orbits around the Sun.

The resulting cloud of particles (meteoroids), due to the “thaw” produced by the solar heat, is dispersed by the orbit of the comet and is crossed by the Earth in its annual route around the Sun.

When these particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed, they disintegrate and end up emitting that trace of light.

By 2021, Perseid activity will occur between July 17 and August 24.

Those nights and those of the next days, Between August 11 and 14, they will be the best to enjoy this meteor shower.

In addition, this year, the low luminosity of the Moon (there will be a new Moon on August 8) will facilitate the possibility of seeing even the weakest meteors.

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