Given all the publicity and the clear skies I thought it only fair to stay up and see if I could catch me a meteor shower last night. It was a success.
I was lucky on three counts; firstly that most of the external lights here switch off at 00:15, secondly that the “radiant point” (below Cassiopeia to the left of Perseus) was smack bang centre of my ideal viewing place and lastly that a sunbed by the pool made an ideal way to gaze without getting a stiff neck.
I only watched between midnight and around 01:15 but saw somewhere between 10-15 “shooting stars” of which 2-3 were quite impressive and the rest either peripheral vision, very short or dull.
I was tempted to wait for the peak hours just before dawn but insects had started biting me, it was getting cold (relatively) and the intervals between good ones seemed to be getting longer not shorter.
Nice to see.
The meteor shower is caused by particles cast off by the comet Swift-Tuttle colliding with the earth’s atmosphere at speeds of around 36 miles a second whereupon they burn up and show as bright streaks in the sky. It appears around the same time every year even though the comet itself only comes close every 133 years, last time being 1992. People have been observing the same spectacle for thousands of years.