Tags: perseids | jupiter | meteor shower

Perseids, Jupiter Cooperate for More Brilliant Meteor Shower

Image: Perseids, Jupiter Cooperate for More Brilliant Meteor Shower

(Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 05:45 AM

The annual Perseids meteor shower on Thursday night will likely be more brilliant this year thanks to Jupiter.

Sky gazers can normally see up to 60 to 80 comets per hour when Earth goes by the Swift-Tuttle debris field, The Verge reported. This year, though, Jupiter came close enough to the debris field for its immense gravitational pull to push the comet stream closer to Earth, and sky watchers will likely see a corresponding increase in comet views.

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

NASA said that the meteor shower results from pieces of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years. Every time the comet whizzes through the inner solar system, it leaves trillions of small particles behind, according to NASA.

When Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, which is called Perseids because it appears to come from the constellation Perseus, specks from the comet hit Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light.

The Perseids meteors fly by at 132,000 miles per hour, meaning even a small amount of space dust can produce vivid streaks across the sky at that speed.

The meteors can reach temperatures from 3,000 to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit as they fly across the sky, reports NASA. But Perseids meteors pose no danger to Earth because most burn up 50 miles above our planet's surface.

"The meteors you'll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago," Cooke said in the NASA statement. "And they've traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth's atmosphere."

Margaret Campbell-Brown and Peter Brown said in the 2016 Observer's Handbook by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that there is a chance that the enhanced shower may not come to pass, according to Space.com.

"Some models predict an enhancement in activity from the Perseids in 2016 about seven hours before the traditional peak, but this is from older trails unlikely to produce more than a moderate increase in rates," they pointed out.

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The annual Perseids meteor shower on Thursday night will likely be more brilliant this year thanks to Jupiter.
perseids, jupiter, meteor shower
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2016-45-11
Thursday, 11 Aug 2016 05:45 AM
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