Celestial show: Numerous Perseid fireballs may light up Qatar skies this week

  • 2 months   ago
Celestial show: Numerous Perseid fireballs may light up Qatar skies this week

Dozens of shooting stars will be visible every hour.

Sixty to 100 shooting stars may be seen in the skies over Qatar, and across the Northern Hemisphere, in the intervening between Wednesday and Thursday (August 13) as the annual Perseid Aquarid meteor shower builds to its peak.

Residents of Qatar will have a good chance of seeing the Perseid showers in the hours between the midnight and sunrise, the Qatar Calendar House (QCH) has said.

The Perseid meteor shower is an annual celestial event that peaks on August 12th and 13th, astronomy expert at QCH Dr Beshir Marzouk said. The show is a result of the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. It produces more fireballs than any other meteor shower. The meteor count during the stunning event can range from 60 to 100 per hour, QCH said, added.

Sky gazers don't need any kind of special equipment to watch the meteor showers as most of the time they can be seen all over the sky, the Calendar House noted. Pictures of the fireballs can be easily taken with any modern digital cameras, it added.

The Swift-Tuttle Comet approaches the Sun every 133 year. The last time this happened was in 1992. It will approach the Sun again on 2125. 

Where do meteors come from?

Meteors will be most numerous during the predawn hours. That’s when the constellation Perseus, from which the meteors will appear to emanate, will be highest in the sky. That point is called the “radiant.” But the best shooting stars with the longest tails are usually found perpendicular to the radiant.

Don’t get too bogged down in terminology or finding a “perfect spot,” though. Anywhere in the sky will suffice, with greater prospects away from the luminance of the moon.

Meteor showers occur when Earth plows through a stream of debris left in the wake of a comet or asteroid. Much like driving through a swarm of bugs on the highway, Earth intercepts a spattering of interstellar pebbles and space rocks during its annual orbit. In the case of the Perseids, those tiny stones come from the long-ago passage of comet Swift-Tuttle.

Instead of leaving behind a nasty smear on glass, these particulates burn up in our outer atmosphere about 60 miles high, leaving behind a streak of light. Their enormous speed — about 36 miles per second — generates enormous friction when they encounter gas molecules on the fringes of the atmosphere. That heats them up to the point of combustion, producing a magnificent trail of color.

 

Where do meteors’ colors come from?

When a meteor burns up, the elemental compounds it contains produce light. The Perseids are rich in sodium, accounting for their yellowish color. Some meteors also contain magnesium, iron, carbon and silicon.

Sometimes a glowing trail lingers for a few moments immediately afterward. That’s where a small cushion of air was compressed ahead of the arriving meteor. Compression causes heating, and the air can become ionized and produce light. The trails are usually dense and can be used to reflect radio waves. That’s how astronomers are able to “hear” meteors from Earth.

How to enjoy the show

If you’re hoping to enjoy the shooting stars, head to a clear, dark location away from city lights. Beaches, ballfields and parks are ideal locations. Having a wide-open, panoramic view of the sky is key.

So if you’re looking for a fun and meaningful, socially distant activity to share with friends and loved ones, try your luck chasing shooting stars. You may just get to make a wish.

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