Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Perseid Meteors 2020: A comet’s tale

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 11:02 AM

Currently speeding out from the sun after its last visit to the solar system’s inner reaches in 1992, Comet Swift-Tuttle leaves a trail of debris in its path. Comets are made of frozen gasses, dust and rock; as the sun’s energy warms and sublimates the frozen gasses, some of its solids are blown off into space, leaving the trail of particles. (See the time-lapse video below.)

“Self Portrait with Perseid Meteors.” The lights of Eureka shine on the Pacific Coast beneath a pair of Perseid meteors in this composite of two images from a timelapse sequence taken during the Perseid meteor shower of 2020 from the hills of Humboldt County on Aug. 12. - PHOTO BY DAVID WILSON
  • Photo by David Wilson
  • “Self Portrait with Perseid Meteors.” The lights of Eureka shine on the Pacific Coast beneath a pair of Perseid meteors in this composite of two images from a timelapse sequence taken during the Perseid meteor shower of 2020 from the hills of Humboldt County on Aug. 12.

Every 133 years, Swift-Tuttle comes in from out beyond Pluto to swing by Earth’s neighborhood on its path around the sun, laying down another swath of dust and small particles before heading back out again. Earth passes through its stream of cometary dust every year in early to mid August. As we pass through the trail of dust and small chunks, we collect them in our atmosphere like bugs on a windshield. The particles, or meteoroids, enter the atmosphere at incredibly high speeds (over 100,000 miles per hour) and burn up quickly due to friction with the air. The meteors we see in the sky are their paths burning through the sky.

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