Tonight, the 2012 Perseid meteor shower is at its peak and will grace the sky, so be sure to set your clock and don’t miss out on the wondrous event.
This year, Perseid has been active since July 23, but it really peaks between August 11 and 12. During the late hours of Saturday and into the wee hours of Sunday, about 60-100 bits of comet, or more, will shoot across the sky. The cause of the meteor shower is due to the Earth passing through dust debris left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Shooting stars and meteor shows are amazing to watch, but why do they happen? There’s so much more to the phenomenon than just watching a star streak across the sky. To prepare you for this weekend’s event, here are five fun facts about the Perseid meteor shower.
1. In space, shooting stars are called meteoroids, and they are super fast, as they enter Earth’s atmosphere at about 133,200 mph.
2. Once meteoroids break through Earth’s atmosphere, they’re called meteors. They come in all sizes including sand grains, peas and marbles.
3. Meteor’s hardly ever hit the ground, but if they do they’re called meteorites.
4. The Comet-Swift Tuttle is the largest object to come near Earth on more than one occasion.
5. When a meteor enters the atmosphere it becomes extremely hot, with it reaching more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This occurs because as soon as it breaks through the atmosphere, the air in front of it is compressed and heats up. This heat vaporizes most meteors, which in turn creates a shooting star.
To learn more about Perseid click here, and don’t forget to get your blanket and snacks ready to lie out under the stars this weekend. Now, that’s a great way to enjoy your few days off work.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock