The Perseid Meteor Shower, and why it deserves to be made a fuss of.
I know it sounds quite bad, as an astrophysics applicant, but I had never taken the effort to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower until last night. By Jove, did I tell myself off, though.
I was spending my evening surfing the internet (Read: refreshing my Twitter timeline) when I noticed a lot of people on social networks discussing the Perseids. I hadn’t yet been outside to watch the meteor shower, because it just looked very cold outside. There was such a fuss being made of it, though, that I really felt obliged to go outside. I instructed my sister to put something warm on and we were going to go and sit in the garden.
So we did. I took my duvet outside and my sister hers, and we gazed upon one of the most ethereal nights I have ever experienced.
Having never seen a meteor shower before, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if they were supposed to be frequent, big, colourful; anything. I suppose from picture evidence (such as that above) I expected the train of the meteor to be long-lasting, and to leave an impression on the sky for some time. Nothing happened for a while. The sky was so clear and the stars were so beautiful, that I felt fortunate enough to just be able to stare at the goings-on above me.
Then, I saw a little streak across the sky. That was exciting. I wanted to see more, and I did. I saw tens of meteor trails shoot across the sky. Some small, but still impressive. Others were large- and I could swear I heard them make a noise. The experience was quite something. Every time I felt I was getting a little bit too cold, and it would have made more sense to go inside, I couldn’t get myself up. I was completely enthralled in something for the first time in a long time.
International observers counted some 120 meteors per hour.
The Perseids are an annual meteor shower that peak around the 12th August. They are so named because they appear to come from the constellation, Perseus. They have been observed for over 2000 years.
If you didn’t get outside last night, unfortunately you have missed the shower at its peak. You may well be able to see a few tonight, but nothing quite so brilliant and enthralling as late last night, or early this morning.
There’s always next year, though, for this wonderful and beautifully humbling experience.