comet swift tuttle

Milky Way and Exploding Meteor : Tonight the Perseid Meteor Shower reaches its maximum. Grains of icy rock will streak across the sky as they evaporate during entry into Earths atmosphere. These grains were shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids result from the annual crossing of the Earth through Comet Swift-Tuttles orbit, and are typically the most active meteor shower of the year. Although it is hard to predict the level of activity in any meteor shower, in a clear dark sky an observer might see a meteor a minute. This years Perseids occur just before a new Moon and so the relatively dark sky should make even faint meteors visible. Meteor showers in general are best be seen from a relaxing position, away from lights. Featured here is a meteor caught exploding two weeks ago above Austria next to the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. via NASA


Stunning images show the biggest and best meteor shower of the year 

The Perseid meteor shower, an annual astronomical event that occurs in July and August, is widely known as one of the year’s most spectacular sights. The bright lights that shoot across the sky are a result of Earth’s romp through the debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower peaked last night and left even more incredible photos.

Solar System: Things to Know This Week

Ready for a free show? Here’s our guide to the brightest shows on Earth for 2017–meteor showers! And, there’s no telescope required.

The sky may not be falling, but it can certainly seem that way during a meteor shower. Shooting stars, as meteors are sometimes called  occur when rock and debris in space fall through the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving a bright trail as they are heated to incandescence by friction with the air. Sometimes the number of meteors in the sky increases dramatically, becoming meteor showers. Some showers occur annually or at regular intervals as the Earth passes through the trail of dusty debris left by a comet. Here’s a guide to the top meteor showers expected in 2017.

1. Quadrantids, January 3-4  

At its peak this shower will have about 40 meteors per hour. The parent comet is 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. First quarter moon sets after midnight and meteors radiate from the constellation Bootes. 

2. Eta Aquarids, May 6-7

This shower will have up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak and is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. The waxing gibbous moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this year. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius.

3. Perseids, August 12-13

The annual Perseid shower will have up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. The waning gibbous moon will block out many of the fainter meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and numerous that it should still be a good show. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus.

4. Draconids, October 7

This is a minor shower that will produce only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 7th. Unfortunately, the nearly full moon will block all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are extremely patient, you may be able to catch a few good ones. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco.

5. Geminids, December 13-14

The Geminids may be the best shower, producing up to 120 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. The waning crescent moon will be no match for the Geminids this year. The skies should still be dark enough for an excellent show. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Discover the full list of 10 things to know about our solar system this week HERE.

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Perseid Meteors over Mount Shasta : Where are all of these meteors coming from? In terms of direction on the sky, the pointed answer is the constellation of Perseus. That is why the meteor shower that peaks later this week is known as the Perseids the meteors all appear to came from a radiant toward Perseus. In terms of parent body, though, the sand-sized debris that makes up the Perseids meteors come from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet follows a well-defined orbit around our Sun, and the part of the orbit that approaches Earth is superposed in front of the Perseus. Therefore, when Earth crosses this orbit, the radiant point of falling debris appears in Perseus. Featured here, a composite image containing over 60 meteors from last Augusts Perseids meteor shower shows many bright meteors that streaked over Mount Shasta, California, USA. This years Perseids holds promise to be the best meteor shower of the year. via NASA

There’s Going to Be an Outburst!

Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower at Its Peak Tonight

The last time we had an outburst, that is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual, was in 2009. This year’s Perseid meteor shower is predicted to be just as spectacular starting tonight!

Plan to stay up late tonight or set your alarm clock for the wee morning hours to see this cosmic display of “shooting stars” light up the night sky. Known for it’s fast and bright meteors, tonight’s annual Perseid meteor shower is anticipated to be one of the best meteor viewing opportunities this year.

For stargazers experiencing cloudy or light-polluted skies, a live broadcast of the Perseid meteor shower will be available via Ustream overnight tonight and tomorrow, beginning at 10 p.m. EDT.

“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama. “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”

Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. When Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, specks of comet-stuff hit Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.

Most years, Earth might graze the edge of Swift-Tuttle’s debris stream, where there’s less activity. Occasionally, though, Jupiter’s gravity tugs the huge network of dust trails closer, and Earth plows through closer to the middle, where there’s more material.

This is predicted be one of those years!

Learn more about the Perseids!

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“To fly in space is to see the reality of Earth, alone. The experience changed my life and my attitude toward life itself. I am one of the lucky ones.” — Astronaut Roberta Bondar

Astronaut Ron Garan was one of the lucky ones when he caught a Perseid meteor from the ISS back in 2011. Orbiting at an altitude of about 380 km, the Perseid meteors streak, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 km per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 km above Earth’s surface.

a/n- Sorry for the wait, love! This is a companion piece to:

Finn’s not used to romance.

He’s a seventeen year old, attractive boy with a killer smile and a brooding attitude that brought girls in by the handful. It was easy to pick through them, take one out to the bowling alley or the pub or a movie once or twice before things ended in the back seat of his dad’s car. Girls didn’t last long (not that he was a womanizer, but teenage emotions are shallow and fickle) so there wasn’t any need to stress himself with planning more.

So it scares him when he starts planning more for Rae.

It was pretty much instant and it started way before their first day. First it’s Spaceman and the Knebworth Mix and a love letter he’s still writing. Then it’s his fingertips spelling out bored or yawn on her thigh and acting like an eager puppy (or a kicked one, depending on her mood) whenever she’s near. Before he knows it, his heart is waking him up in the middle of the night crooning love songs about her hair and her wit and then he finds himself sprawled in the back yard, wondering if she would want to go stargazing and worrying about why the hell he cares.

She does want to go stargazing and it’s perfect time on his part (it took him 3 weeks to ask her) because there’s a meteor shower that night and while he’s not all about romance, he gives himself a nice little pat on the back. He packs sleeping bags to lie on and thinks about bring a bottle of vodka but decides against it. There was no pressure on tonight because he had decided long ago that they didn’t have to rush because she was a forever sort of girl (he realizes this one night in the shower and he has to sit down to keep from toppling over because he’s seventeen and he didn’t expect his catting around years to end so soon).

It’s a spectacular show and he gives himself another pat of congratulations because driving so far out that they were basically lost was a perfect idea. No lights, no cars, no Chop to pop up and interrupt. He takes a chance on impressing her with his knowledge of this particular meteor shower (“It’s cause we’re passing through orbit of a comet called Swift Tuttle.”) and he blushes when she asks him how he knows that.

“I read it in the newspaper.” But the truth is he used to read everything he could get his hands on about stars because he wanted to be an astronomer (this came after the crushing news that he couldn’t be an elephant).

“The newspaper?” She props up on an elbow, hair falling over her shoulder and he doesn’t mean to look at her boobs, he just does. “My eyes are up here.”

“And mine are down here,” he laughs. He doesn’t have the decency to even pretend to be ashamed that he spends most of his time checking her out.


He kisses her square on the mouth. “Rae!”

“Now, really. You didn’t read that in a newspaper, did you?”

Finn shrugs and squirms a little under her scrutiny. “Guess not. I just like…” he waves a hand at sky, trying to find the right words. “It’s cool, you know? It’s bigger than we are and we know absolute shit about it, really. It’s nice for there to be mysterious left.”

There’s a joke on her tongue, he can feel it, but she lets it die and kisses him instead, and he’s glad because the last time she made a joke about him liking things bigger than himself, they didn’t speak for 3 days.

There’s a different feel about their kiss tonight and he can’t decide what it is. There’s a rush and then a relief at the notion that her mum isn’t going to bust in and try to hold his hand or his dad won’t knock asking if they want tea. They’ve finally got time away from the gang and he’s so eager to see what they can explore because he doesn’t like mysteries when it comes to Rae. The universe, yes. The mind and body of the only girl to make him question if his heart might actually be able to speak, no.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to bring two sleeping bags but he’s glad he did because the cool night air makes goosebumps raise on her skin and while he’s content to read her skin like Braille, the thought of her being uncomfortable makes him uncomfortable and he unzips the other bag and pulls it over them before wiggling her out of her tights and shirt.

He’s been naked with other girls before but he’s never been so aware of the scent on someone’s skin or the feel of bone and muscle under his palm. He moans with her when his fingers push in and he shudders all over when she calls his name. Finn’s never been religious and he figures this is as close to heaven as he’ll ever be, so he closes his eyes and savors the feel of her hands on his body and hopes he lives a long time so this feeling will never end.

“Finn?” She whispers.

They’re both out of breath and huddled together and the meteor shower has started but he can’t tear his eyes away from her. “Hmm?”

“I love you.”

She’s said it before but there’s a raw honesty that makes him realize she doesn’t just mean for the moment. She means her heart’s been singing love songs about him (maybe they’ve been singing to each other) and she knows her dating days are over, too.

There’s another shift in the air around them and she’s as frantic as he is when he whispers, “I love
you, too.” They are fumbling over each other, mouths wet and sloppy on skin. He’s digging through his bag for a condom, his heart hammering because he knows he didn’t put any in but he’s thinking maybe, just maybe there’s one stuffed in a nook somewhere.

But he comes up empty handed.

He almost laughs. He’d never been without a condom, carried them around even when he knew he wouldn’t need one and now, when it’s the perfect time with the perfect girl, he can’t find one.
Her mouth is nudging his neck, finding that spot just below his ear that makes him draw in a sharp breath. “I don’t…” his cheeks flush in embarrassment. He hadn’t planned this as well as he thought.

It’s reckless and stupid and 30 years from now, he’ll chew his son out for doing the same, but she shifts her hips in invitation and he doesn’t think twice as he slides in her, both of them on fire with need and losing their breath at the most intimate contact either one of them has ever experienced. There are words pouring out of his mouth, straight from his heart so his brain can’t fuddle them and she’s moaning beneath him and he has all intentions of at least pulling out, but when she calls his name, nails catching his back, he shudders deep inside of her.

He figured if anything like this ever happened, he’d be panicked the minute it was over. But he just kisses her face and smoothes her hair because even though this is the single dumbest thing he’s ever done, it’s also the best feeling he’s ever had (and when she smiles at him, he can tell she feels the same).

There’s nothing left to do but watch the rest of the meteor shower because whatever happens, they’re in it together.

What are Perseid Meteors, and why should you be excited for them this year? Let us tell you!

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle as it swings through the inner solar system and ejects a trail of dust and gravel along its orbit. When the Earth passes through the debris, specs of comet-stuff hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate in flashes of light. Meteors from this comet are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.

Last year, this meteor shower peaked during a bright “supermoon”, so visibility was reduced. Luckily, forecasters say the show could be especially awesome this year because the Moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on Aug. 12-13.

The best place to view the event is away from city lights around midnight. Under a clear, dark sky forecasters predict meteor rates as high as 100 per hour on peak night. So, get outside, look up and enjoy the show!

If your area has poor visibility on the peak night, we’ve got you covered! We’ll be hosting a live broadcast about the meteor shower from 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 12, to 2 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13. In addition to footage from our live skycam, the program will highlight the science behind the Perseids, as well as our research related to meteors and comets. Tune in on NASA TV or our UStream Channel.

Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight!

When to view: 12AM to dawn on 8/12 (tonight into tomorrow).


This meteor shower has been viewed for at least 2,000 years. The meteors come from the comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862, and orbits the sun every 133 years.

When the comet gets close to the sun, the heat from it melts the ice in the comet and turns it into gas, which is what creates its long tail. The meteor shower is debris from that comet, which the Earth runs into!

Computer simulations indicate that this year, there could be an outburst, which means there’s more debris than usual, and could lead to up to 200 meteors per hour! (Note that this is a “could” and not an “it definitely will happen,” but be sure to keep an eye out anyway, if you’ve got clear skies.)

It’s most likely that the outburst will happen tonight, but don’t feel bad if you miss it - you should still be able to see some meteors tomorrow night as well, and maybe the night after that.

Also it’s a good idea to go outside about half an hour to an hour before the actual peak hits - that way, your eyes will have adjusted to the dark by then.

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is happening now! The meteors are the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, and every August, like clockwork, our planet Earth cuts through the “river of rubble” left behind along the orbit of the comet. And yet, while comets are composed chiefly of frozen gas, meteors are very flimsy. They’re material that has flaked off comets and they’re similar in consistency to cigar ash; they litter up our solar system. Most are scarcely larger than pebbles or sand grains.

In the case of the Perseids, they come crashing into Earth’s atmosphere at estimated speeds as high as 37 miles per second—133,000 miles per hour. These tiny visitors from the cold, vast voids of stellar space, have been orbiting in the solar system for perhaps hundreds or even thousands of years, but cannot survive the shock of entry, and end up streaking across the sky in a brief, blazing finale lasting but a few seconds. Their kinectic energy is used up in such processes as the production of light, heat and ionization. Thus, such a tiny particle bursts into incandescence from friction, producing the shooting star effect and can be seen from more than 100-miles away. But it’s really the light energy it develops, not the particle itself that we see.

They are named the Perseid meteors because their fiery trails, if extended to a common point of intersection, would seem to originate near to the Double Star Cluster in the constellation Perseus, which on mid August evenings rises from the northeast.

Get tips on how best to view the Perseid Meteor Shower from NASA.

Image: Science@NASA

BULGARIA, Pirdop : A long exposure image showing an aeroplane passing in the sky during the Perseids meteor shower over the remains of St. Ilia Roman early Christian basilica dated back to the 5th–6th century AD near the town of Pirdop, early on August 12, 2015. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in August when the Earth passes through the debris and dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The Perseid meteor shower – an annual display of natural fireworks – should be particularly spectacular this year, with extra-dark skies expected to create optimal stargazing conditions, astronomers said on August 7, 2015.   AFP PHOTO / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV                        

Comet Dust over Enchanted Rock : Dusty debris from periodic Comet Swift-Tuttle was swept up by planet Earth this week. Vaporized by their passage through the dense atmosphere at 59 kilometers per second, the tiny grains produced a stream of Perseid meteors. A bright, colorful Perseid meteor flash was captured during this 20 second exposure. It made its ephemeral appearance after midnight on August 12, in the moonless skies over the broad granite dome of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, central Texas, USA. Below the Perseid meteor, trees stand in silhouette against scattered lights along the horizon and the faint Milky Way, itself cut by dark clouds of interstellar dust. via NASA


Attention stargazers! The Perseid meteor shower returns this week.
This is our annual encounter with the tenuous trail of debris left in solar orbit by comet 109/P Swift-Tuttle. As Earth plows through this veil of mostly small grains and dust, we can see comet fragments appear as swift light traces of Perseid meteors.
The Perseid shower is the night of August 12-13. It peaks for viewers in the eastern United States during predawn hours of Thursday August 13 and the show should be better than usual because that night the Moon is new so lunar glow won’t wash out meteor trails of lesser brightness. Although Perseids arrive in greatest numbers early on the morning of the 13th, there’ll be a gradual lead-up during the previous several days and late arrivals may be spotted for several nights after the peak.
Meteor trails from the August 12-13 shower appear to originate at a vanishing point known as the radiant in the constellation Perseus. Stars of Perseus rise above the north-northeast horizon around 9 p.m. for observers in mid-northern latitudes, and about 4 a.m.—peak time in the eastern U.S, the radiant will be two-thirds of the way between horizon and zenith toward east-northeast. To see the entire flight of a meteor it’s usually best to look near the zenith, with a slight nod toward Perseus whence these meteors radiate. If you get to a reasonably dark location, one meteor per minute might be seen as the objects are heated to incandescence at altitudes of about 50 to 75 miles.

Learn more from the Sky Reporter.

Image: Via NASA

Just your friendly Perseid reminder!

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks August 11-12. 

August 11.-12. EDT, that is - check your timezone. Every Perseid meteor is a piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle. When Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, specks of comet dust hit Earth’s atmosphere and burn, creating the flashes people call shooting stars. These meteors are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus. 

Obviously it’s probably going to rain where I locate, so no perseids for me (which I’m kind of glad about, as I’m not at home and don’t have my camera gear with me). If you get any photos, feel free to submit them to me! I’d be so happy to see perseids through your photos.

Photo Credit: Ruslan Merzlyakov


The Night Is Moonless and the Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight!

Skywatchers around the world are in for a dazzling display as the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Wednesday night.
Viewing is weather-dependent, however, and cloud cover may spoil the party in many parts of the UK.
Above the clouds, conditions are unusually favourable because the shower will coincide with a new moon.
The Perseids are pieces of Comet Swift-Tuttle; each August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris.
Swift-Tuttle shed this material long ago, and it is now distributed as a tenuous “river of rubble” along the comet’s orbit around the Sun.
These particles of ice and dust (which range from the size of a grain of sand to around as big as a pea) hit the Earth’s atmosphere at about 60km/s (37 miles/s).
As they do so, they heat the air around them, causing the characteristic streak of light.
The meteor shower is visible across the Northern hemisphere and from as far as subtropical latitudes south of the Equator. Prime viewing hours, wherever you are, stretch from about 23:00 local time on 12 August until the morning of 13 August. Plus, in 2015, the waning crescent moon comes up shortly before sunrise, so you’re guaranteed of dark skies for this year’s Perseid meteor shower. Thus, on the Perseids’ peak mornings, moonlight will not obscure this year’s Perseid meteors.

New month, new blog from the Sky Reporter

August’s main sky event promises to be our annual encounter with the tenuous trail of debris left in solar orbit by comet 109/P Swift-Tuttle. As Earth plows through this veil of mostly small grains and dust, we can see comet fragments appear as swift light traces of Perseid meteors.

The Perseid shower is the night of August 12/13. It peaks for viewers in the eastern United States during predawn hours of Thursday August 13 and the show should be better than usual because that night the Moon is new so lunar glow won’t wash out meteor trails of lesser brightness. Although Perseids arrive in greatest numbers early on the morning of the 13th, there’ll be a gradual lead-up during the previous several days and late arrivals may be spotted for several nights after the peak.

Read on about the meteor shower, the return of Orion, and much more.

A Perseid below

Denizens of planet Earth typically watch meteor showers by looking up. But this remarkable view, captured on August 13, 2011 by astronaut Ron Garan, caught a Perseid meteor by looking down. From Garan's perspective onboard the International Space Station orbiting at an altitude of about 380 kilometers, the Perseid meteors streak below, swept up dust left from comet Swift-Tuttle heated to incandescence. The glowing comet dust grains are traveling at about 60 kilometers per second through the denser atmosphere around 100 kilometers above Earth’s surface. In this case, the foreshortened meteor flash is right of frame center, below the curving limb of the Earth and a layer of greenish airglow, just below bright star Arcturus. Want to look up at a meteor shower? You’re in luck, as the 2014 Perseids meteor shower peaks this week. Unfortunately, the fainter meteors in this year’s shower will be hard to see in a relatively bright sky lit by the glow of a nearly full Moon.

Image credit: Ron Garan, ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA

Cosmic Showdown This Weekend 

The Perseid meteors are the heavyweight fireball champions of the meteor world. Peaking during the second week of August, the Perseids are arguably the best meteor shower of the year. They originate from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle and usually produce around 100 meteors per hour. The Perseids are known for their fireballs, which can be as bright as Jupiter and even Venus.

However, that may change this year. The Perseids are set to peak August 11-13, but another celestial event may outshine them. On Sunday August 10, the Moon will be a special kind of full moon, called as Super Moon. This means it will be the closest full moon of the year, at a point in its orbit known as “perigee”. So our Moon will be 14 percent closer and 30 percent brighter. This may put a damper on the Perseids. 

Will the Perseids prevail and outshine the Moon, or will this year’s Super Moon be able to “knock out” some of the brightest fireballs in the night sky? 

If you are out this weekend and capture either the Moon, the Perseids or both, we would love to see your photos. Send them in!

Image Credit: NASA

UNITED KINGDOM, Helmsley : A meteor passes across the sky above Rievaulx Abbey during the peak in activity of the annual Perseids meteor shower in the village of Rievaulx, near Helmsley, northern England on August 13, 2015. The Perseids meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.  AFP PHOTO / OLI SCARFF              

Perseid meteors to light up summer skies

The evening of Wednesday 12 August into the morning of Thursday 13 August sees the annual maximum of the Perseid meteor shower. This year, a new moon makes prospects for watching this natural firework display particularly good.

Meteors (popularly known as ‘shooting stars’) are the result of small particles, some as small as a grain of sand, entering Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. The tail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed near Earth in 1992, leaves such debris in Earth’s path. On entering the atmosphere, these particles heat the air around them, causing the characteristic streak of light seen from the ground. This shower of meteors appears to originate from a single point, called a 'radiant’, in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name.

The shower is active each year from around 17 July to 24 August, although for most of that period only a few meteors an hour will be visible. From the UK, the peak of the shower occurs in the late evening on 12 August to the morning of 13 August, when as many as 100 meteors or more may be seen each hour. This year, for the first time since 2007, this peak coincides with a new moon on 14 August, creating ideal dark sky conditions for meteor-spotting.

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