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Perseids 2007: far from the splendour of other years


Espectacular muntatge de 3 imatges de les Perseides i la Via Lāctia
3 shooting stars from the Perseids of 2005.
Composition of 3 images taken the night from August 3rd to 4th.
Courtesy: Denis Joye


Nowadays the Perseids are, with no doubt, the most famous meteor shower among the population. There are powerful reasons which explain it clearly: on the one hand, they visit us every year in the very middle of August, when many people are enjoying their summer holiday far from big cities. It is then a perfect moment to observe this kind of sights: relaxation, time flexibility and nice temperatures to practice night activities outdoor influlence us to do it. On the other hand, the wonderful storms with which Perseids gifted us in the first half of the decade of 1990's, when it was possible to observe up to 400 meteors an hour, are still very present in the collective memory.

Description of the shower

This year 2007, we will not enjoy events similar to the ones happened in the first half of the 1990's. In these cases, the most spectacular peak took place a bit before the usual maximum of Perseids, but during recent years it has been vanishing. Then, it is expected to observe only the traditional peak, with rates ~ 100 meteors per hour. According to the calculations by the IMO , it will take place between 5:30 and 7:00 UT on August 13th. Other forecasts speak about a maximum at 9:00 UT the same day.

Some observations developed in the second half of 1990's suggest that another peak could appear over 15:00 UT on August 13th too, but forecasts about its intensity cannot be done.

Visibility from the Iberian Peninsula

Unfortunatelly, this year is not the best one to observe the Perseids from the Iberian Peninsula, because the peaks will take place in broad daylight. Nevertheless, other very favourable circumstances promise a wonderful sight during the hours previous to the sunrise on August 13th, near the maximum:

Meteor showers are long duration events: despite the peak of maximum intensity will happen when the Sun will be clearly over the horizon at the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands (as well as at the Canary Islands, where conditions will be a bit better), the number of visible meteors during the hours immediately before the maximum will be quite over the average. Moreover, the Moon, which will be new on August 12th, will not interfere with the observations.

On the other hand, Mars will be in the constellation of Taurus, very near to the radiant (the point from which shooting stars seem to emerge during a meteor shower) and will be very bright because it will be very near our planet: on December 18th, the Earth and Mars will be in the point of closest approximation, just a bit before the opposition that will happen at 20:00 UT on Christmas Eve. For all these circumstances, I would recommend to enjoy a night walk and have a look to the sky!

Diagrama de l'aspecte del cel entorn a Perseu

The eastern sky, viewed during the hours before sunrise on Monday, August 13th, 2007.
Courtesy: science@NASA

For more information

  1. Forecast by the IMO for 2007
  2. Forecast by Maslov
  3. Perseids 2007 on science@NASA

Do not doubt! Try to hunt the magical moments Perseids give us every year! We are expecting your images!


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