Astronomer Fred Bruenjes recorded a series of many 30 second long exposures spanning about six hours on the night of Aug. 11 and early morning of Aug. 12, 2004 using a wide angle lens. Combining those frames which captured meteor flashes, he produced this dramatic view of the Perseids of summer. There are 51 Perseid meteors in the composite image, including one seen nearly head-on.
Credits: Fred Bruenjes
Thanks to a new moon, this week’s Perseid meteor shower is expected to be one of the best in years, and NASA Television will bring viewers a front row seat.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will broadcast a live program about this year’s Perseid meteor shower from 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 12 to 2 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13. The event will highlight the science behind the Perseids, as well as NASA research related to meteors and comets. The program will air on NASA TV and NASA’s UStream channel.
The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Every August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s orbital debris. This debris field -- mostly created hundreds of years ago -- consists of bits of ice and dust shed from the comet which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the premier meteor showers of the year.
The best opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower is during the dark, pre-dawn hours of Aug. 13. The Perseids streak across the sky from many directions, with theoretical rates as high as 100 per hour. The last time the Perseids peak coincided with a new moon was in 2007, making this one of the best potential viewings in years.
Special guests on the live NASA TV broadcast include meteor experts Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw, all of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, located at Marshall. They will provide on-air commentary, as well as answer questions online. Also scheduled to join the broadcast are experts from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, the American Meteor Society and others.
Anyone can join in the conversation by tweeting questions to @NASA_Marshall with the hashtag #askNASA. Social media users may also post questions to Marshall’s Facebook page by replying to the Aug. 12 Perseid Q-and-A post.
Watch a NASA ScienceCast video on the 2015 Perseid meteor shower here:
For more information on NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, visit:
For the latest in “Watch the Sky” news, visit: