Like every summer, Earth traverses the trail of dust and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, producing a shower of falling stars known as Perseids or Tears of San Lorenzo. This year, the phenomenon has been seen since July 17 and will remain visible until August 24. However, the peak time will occur on the nights of August 11-14. Experts believe that the activity of these stars will reach 100 meteors per hour (in 2020 they remained at 78 and in 2019 they reached 99) and even smaller ones will be visible, due to the lower illumination of the moon on those dates. The busiest night can be watched live, from 1.15am Thursday through Friday, at EL PAÍS via the channel sky-live.tv, which broadcasts the event from Canary Observatory.
The phenomenon was first dated in the year 36, although it wasn’t until 1835 when it got its present name. That year, a Belgian astronomer identified a point in the sky where these lights seemed to have been born and that point was in the constellation Perseus. This shower is actually tiny shards of dust and rock left over by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which “melts” in the sun’s heat.
This asteroid, which has a diameter of 26 kilometers and was discovered in 1862, completes one orbit around our star every 133 years. When its remnants, some smaller than a grain of sand, enter the atmosphere, they glow and turn into a beam of light, which from Earth looks like a bright star. According to experts, this year will be especially active and more than 100 meteors can be seen per hour.
Michael Serra, director of the TED Observatory, explains, although he cautions that other factors such as light pollution of the place or the lunar cycle may also influence.
When the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle enter the atmosphere, they glow and transform into a beam of light, which from Earth looks like a bright star.
For astronomers, it is important to know how much rain will fall, with which they can calculate the density of the cloud of debris in orbit, which are known as meteors. “Knowing the size and density of these meteorites is important for protecting our satellite fleet,” Serra says. This infrastructure will be the first to receive the effect of this cloud, so it is necessary to anticipate it in case it is very dense or has large fragments.
Perseids 2021 can be continued at El País thanks to a signal sky-live.tv As of 1:30 a.m. on August 13 (Spanish time) and through the aforementioned TV channel on Youtube. The low brightness of our satellite (there will be a new moon on August 8) will allow us to see the smallest asteroids.
With these unique conditions, regardless of specific locations – such as Teide (Canary Islands), Torcal de Antequera, Sierra Morena (Andalusia), Monfragüe (Extremadura), northern Sierra de Gredos (Castilla y León), Sierra de Albarracín (Aragon) or Montsec (Catalonia), among many others – any place high or far from light pollution would be ideal for observing the astronomical landscape these days.
In addition, the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics and the Polytechnic University of Madrid They launched a project called star counters So that any citizen can cooperate in the census of meteorites. The institute itself has made astronomy lovers a guide to follow the whole process through mobile applications. “It’s about counting the number of meteors that have passed through your field of view and sending that data to a gateway and doing a very accurate calculation of Perseids activity as a function of time and you can get very interesting results.” says the official, who encourages doing the activity as a family.
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