Perseids 2022: when and how to see the meteor shower

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This year the August meteor shower, also known as Tears of Saint LawrenceThey coincide with the full moon. Even so, we tell you what are the peak days and how to see them to enjoy this phenomenon.

An August is not August without Perseids. The most famous meteor shower of the year, also known as Tears of Saint Lawrencecome back one more summer, although this time the full moon will make it difficult to observe: Find a place away from urban centers, fix your eyes on a point in the sky and be patient.

commonly called “Shooting Stars” (they are actually meteors), the activity of the Perseids began on July 17 and will last until August 24, although the maximum activity is expected for the 11th, 12th and 13th. They are visible throughout the northern hemisphere.

Standard models say that its activity in perfect conditions is between 100/150 meteors every hour, but then the reality is somewhat different, because the activity is not regular and the amount varies depending on the time, the place chosen or the visual acuity of the observer.

A bad year to see them

However, as the National Geographic Institute recalls on its website, 2022 It’s a bad year to watch them since its maximum coincides with the full moon (the full moon will take place on the 12th); These conditions are not perfect.

This year the full moon will make it difficult for the weakest to see and “we will only observe the brightest ones that will continue to be impressive”, summarizes Serra-Ricart, from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC).

As in previous years, he adds, it is necessary to find a location away from urban centers fix your eyes on a point in the sky and wait patiently.

“Unfortunately, the peak of the Perseids will occur in the worst possible circumstances for observers,” says the NASA astronomer. Bill Cooke, “The moon is much brighter than any other object in the night sky, so only the brightest Perseids will be visible. At best, 10-20 meteors per hour will be observed.

And it is that the maximum coincides with a “supermoon” popularly known as Sturgeon. Although it is not the best year -the weather will also have to be taken into account- this astronomer recommends, on the NASA blog, to always look at the sky, because you never know, “you may catch one of the bright meteors that defy the moonlight.”

How does a meteor shower occur?

Meteor showers occur when the trace of dust and rock particles left by comets in their orbit around the sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere and volatilize producing a luminous effect: the meteors.

These phenomena can be predicted in advance, since every year the Earth crosses the path of several comets on its way around the Sun, in this case 109P/Swift-Tuttle.

The orbit of this comet is filled with thousands of small particles like grains of sand that, when they cross paths with the Earth, impact its atmosphere.

This shock produces, in these tiny fragments, a temperature increase of up to five thousand degrees in a fraction of a second, which causes them to disintegrate and emit a flash of light, meteor or shooting star.

The importance of analyzing the Perseids

The Perseids are a very well known meteor shower, so their observation does not provide new information about their origin, provenance and physical and chemical properties.

However, it does provide very relevant data on the amount of debris (in this case of cometary origin) in the environment of our planet, the researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) José María Madiedo told Efe.

“And that information plays a fundamental role for research projects that seek to determine the risk of impact of large objects against the Earth“, points out the astronomer, who explains that the detectors that the IAA operates within the framework of the SMART project will be active to capture the Perseids throughout the entire peninsula.

Through the collaboration of the IAC with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, within the framework of the Interreg EELabs and LIFE Natura@night projects, on the night of 12 to 13, the channel will broadcast its maximum activity from Madeira and from the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (Garafía, La Palma).

Behind this initiative is also the objective of making the population aware of the problem of light pollution.

Although it is not the best year, there is always the opportunity to “hunt” Perseids and it is a good time to explain the phenomenon.

For example, the Science Park of Grenade offers this week special sessions to explain how to observe them, while some 400 people will contemplate the Perseids on Friday from the Cabezo de la Jara astronomical observatory in Puerto Lumbreras (Murcia).

Also the Steel and Mining Museum of Castile and Leon, based in Sabero (León), has scheduled an astronomical observation and the Mallorcan Institute of Space Sciences has organized the “Nit dels Perseids”.

To avoid situations of “lack of control”, the Cabildo de Tenerife will launch a special operative in the Teide National Park.

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