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Perseid Meteors in August

Posted 8/15/2013

I woke up at 4AM on August 13 for no apparent reason.   After a few minutes of clearing my head, it came to me; this was the best time of the best day to view the Perseid meteors.  I try to see the Perseids every year, so I stumbled out the front door into the pitch-black driveway.

There are no street lights here at the edge of the forest and all the porch lights were off.  That's the best way, with a dark sky and no man-made lights to ruin my night vision.  I put a rocking chair facing toward Polaris and looked into the sky.

The Milky Way is bright and visible at 7400 foot elevation when there's no moon and there was none this morning.  After midnight, the sky is facing the direction we're rotating around the sun, so more meteors are "scooped up" than before midnight.  These meteors come from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which passed Earth most recently in 1992.  The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which I can't identify but it's somewhere near Polaris.

I wasn't disappointed.  A series of bright streaks appeared in the sky, about one every two minutes.  They appear miraculously, when they want to, not when you expect.  Over to the left horizon, high in the sky, low to the East; you don't know exactly when or where the next ones will appear.  That's part of the miracle; the Creator makes them, not me.

Since dawn was near, satellites can be illuminated by the sun.  I saw one of them in a northern orbit, moving quickly.  Mapping satellites travel north/south so they can cover every inch of the Earth's surface eventually.  I smiled in case it was taking an infrared image of me in the dark.

The dawn came and the show was over but worth the chilly wait in the dark.  I was grateful to see this display of light for one more year.

Perseid 2013 Monday early AM.jpg