I am very excited right now, just watch this youtube it's only 17 seconds long, but it shows you what I am excited about.
I can't wait for tomorrow night, before it gets dark I will head off with Francis (with an i) and my sister E, towards the south coast in order to get away from any light sources and find a place as dark as dark can be.
WHY? I hear you ask.
Well tomorrow is the annual Perseid meteor shower, I have spent my life watching this and look forward to it a lot every year and I have seen it from many places around the World. It actually lasts about a month to six weeks, but there is always one day when it is at it's best and tomorrow is that day. With the added blessing of being able to see Mars which will be next to the Moon. UK watchers need to look South, if you look at about 01:ooam you will see them very close together.
This natural event has gone on for so long that it is part and parcel of our natural World and has been documented by the Egyptians and Shakespeare to the Apollo astronauts. But it was the Chinese who first documented it.
So what is Perseids meteor shower anyway? Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.
“The Perseids is a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it passed by the Sun. Most of the dust in the cloud today is approximately a thousand years old”.
Probably the first notes of Perseids are dated back to year 36 when the Chinese wrote “over 100 meteors flew this morning”. Many other markings of Perseids can be found from Chinese, Japanese and Korean archives. From those days August has been known as a “meteor rich” month.Here is a youtube that explains it very well, however when it comes to the date they are talking about 2008. Also it lasts about 5mins 33 seconds, but is by far the best explanation of it.
Please remember that your night sky will look different from mine depending on where you are in the World. Also while the 12th/13th is the very best time to see it, it will be with us until about the 24th of August having arrived in our solar system about July 17th. So if you have seen any "shooting stars" it is properly from Perseid.
Another little fact; it is often known as "The Tears of Saint Lawrence" as it occurs around the anniversary of his martyrdom in AD 258.