(IAAC) VIEWING THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER TONIGHT!
In the past 24 hours, 'meteorobs' had *seventeen* new subscribers!
That in mind, this seems like a great time to answer the question our new
readers are MOST likely to be asking: How to see the Perseids tonight...
My FIRST suggestion is to browse Alan MacRobert's excellent article from Sky &
Telescope, available on the Web at:
SECOND, read the following ALPO post to 'meteorobs' from last week!
Last, if you still have questions, email our meteor observing list at:
Lew Gramer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- A.L.P.O. OBSERVING ALERT: THE 1998 PERSEIDS
- Contact: Robert Lunsford (info at end of this story)
The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) invites all
observers to submit records of their counts of this year's Perseid
Conditions are not favorable for watching this year's Perseids, which
peak early Wednesday morning August 12. A 78 percent waning gibbous
will rise approximately 10 p.m. local daylight time Tuesday evening
and will be high in the sky during the peak of this year's activity.
The shower was named for the constellation from which the meteors seem
to originate. While Perseid meteors are swift and can appear in any
portion of the sky, tracing their trail backwards will point to an
area near the Double Cluster of Perseus, which is located between the
constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia.
Since many of the fainter Perseid meteors will be obscured by the
intense moonlight, observers will be limited to perhaps seeing 25-35
meteors during the last few hours before morning twilight.
Observations may be possible during the hour between the end of
evening twilight and moonrise, but the radiant (the area of the sky
the meteors appear to come from) will be situated low in the
northeast at that time, thereby reducing the number of Perseid meteors
visible. Only when the radiant is high in the sky (after midnight) are
the Perseids seen at their best. Unfortunately, the moon will also be
high in the sky after midnight.
For 1998 the best observing strategy would be to face toward the north
away from the intense moonlight. Despite the moon, rural sites away
from light pollution still offer better views of the meteor shower. If
you can watch for only an hour or two, it would be better to watch
between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. rather than during the evening hours.
Perseid rates will be much stronger during the morning hours.
The ALPO Meteors Section is interested in receiving hourly counts from
observers who wish to do more than just watch the show. Basic data
* The number of Perseids viewed
* The number of sporadic (random) meteors viewed
* The starting and ending times of your watch (preferably in
Universal Time, though local time will also be acceptable)
* Notation of any breaks taken during this period
More experienced observers are also invited to estimate the magnitude
of each meteor seen. After your watch, it is interesting to chart your
magnitudes to obtain a graph of the brightness of the Perseids and to
compare your results to others.
It is also important to note any clouds, trees, hills or other
obstructions that hide the sky from your field of view.
It is also VERY helpful to include at several times during the watch
the magnitude of the faintest star one can see. Observers will most
likely be able to spot stars between the magnitudes of 4.0 and 5.0
during the Perseid activity this year. Exact magnitudes can be
obtained from star charts available at local libraries or by
consulting the August 1997 issue of "Sky & Telescope" magazine.
Please send your meteor counts to the: Robert Lunsford, ALPO Meteors
Section Recorder at: 161 Vance Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910-4828.
Those with access to e-mail may send it to:
The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers is the country's
oldest organization dedicated to serious study of our solar system.
The ALPO offers a number of observing programs for beginning and
advanced amateur astronomers. Observation reports are published in the
quarterly journal, "The Strolling Astronomer." For more information
about the ALPO, write to ALPO Membership Secretary, P.O. Box 171302,
Memphis, TN 38187-1302; e-mail to: