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Perseids Peak -- And There's An App For That

9 Aug 2009, 04:12 UTC
Perseids Peak -- And There's An App For That
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On Tuesday and Wednesday Earth passes through the densest part of a river of particles shed by Comet Swift-Tuttle, creating the annual Perseids Meteor Shower. NASA's Meteroid Environment Office predicts a better-than-usual show with up to about 200 meteors per hour blasting through Earth's atmosphere.If you'd like to try your luck at catching a falling star, head outside between 9 and 11 p.m. when the moon dips low in the northern sky, reducing the glare. Find a patch of flat ground away from city lights. Spread out blanket, lie down and look up. Perseids appear all over the sky, though their tails point back to the constellation Persues.As particles from the comet's tail enter Earth's atmosphere, the air in front of them becomes compressed and hot. Scientists estimate temperatures can climb as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit due to the particles' intense speed — about 132,000 mph. The heat vaporizes the particles, creating streaks of light we call shooting stars.Spaceweather.com has a new service this year -- an iPhone and iPod application featuring a Perseid countdown clock, news updates, an all-sky map and a gallery of photos from star-gazers around the world. You can download the app here.Happy hunting!(Photo: Bill ...

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