Perseid meteor shower, one of the most famous annual “shooting star” screens, reached its peak activity this week, with a spectacular show for skywatchers in the northern hemisphere.
While Perseids is typically considered one of the best meteor showers, with about 50 to 75 meteors per hour, this year fewer meteors were visible than usual. This is because the moon in the first quarter drowned out some of the weaker meteors with its bright light.
Despite some disturbance of the moonlight, photographers around the world managed to capture lots of beautiful photos of Perseid meteors streaking through the night sky.
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Grab a great photo from Perseid meteor shower 2020? Let us know! Send photos and comments to [email protected].
The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year from mid-July to late August, when the earth passes through the stream of debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun about once every 135 years.
While the meteor shower is active for about five weeks, it reaches its peak activity each year around August 12, according to the American Meteor Society. This year, Perseid reached its peak before dawn on Wednesday (August 12), but the view was better late on Tuesday evening (August 11) before the moon rose and began to surpass the darker meteors.
In the photo above, taken by astrophotographer Barbara Matthews in Humboldt County, California on Tuesday (August 11), a bright pink and green meteor streaks across the starry night sky near the glittering Winter Galaxy. The bright planet Jupiter is visible to the left of the Milky Way. Saturn shines a little dimmer to the left.
Matthews captured this image at 22:30 local time, or about 90 minutes before the moonrise, when the sky was free from obstructing the moonlight.
In the Nevada desert, near Las Vegas, astrophotographer Tyler Leavitt captured his own wonderful views of Perseid meteors and the Milky Way.
In the image above, a pink and green meteor streaks in sight from the left side of the frame, while Jupiter and Saturn glow side by side in the middle. A second photo of Leavitt below shows a meteor that appears to be heading straight for Jupiter.
While meteors often appear as white “shooting stars” dancing across the night sky, they can also glow with luminous colors such as pink, green, orange and purple.
The color of a meteor track depends on its chemical composition; when a meteor burns up in the atmosphere, elements such as calcium, sodium and iron begin to ionize, giving a colorful glow. Perseids are known to produce bright pink and green tracks, while Geminid meteor showers in December tend to produce meteors with turquoise trails.
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If you missed the top of the Perseid meteor shower, it’s not too late to catch it! The shower will remain active until about August 26, according to the American Meteor Society.
To search for the meteors, you want to find a dark sky away from city lights. Perseid meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus (hence the name). The moonlight may still hinder some of the weaker meteors, but the moon is currently fading, so the night sky will gradually get darker until the new moon next Tuesday (August 18).
Editor’s note: If you click on a great photo or video from Perseid Meteor Shower 2020 and want to share it with Space.com for a possible story or gallery, send pictures and comments to [email protected].
Eemail Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @space Dotcom onend on Facebook.