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Meteor Showers August 2012

Outline
Message circulating on Facebook advises that, during the night of August 12 and 13, 2012, people will be able to view a rare meteor shower in which a predicted 100 meteors per hour may be seen in the night sky.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the message are basically true, although the event described is not particularly rare. The message refers to the Perseid meteor shower. This year, Perseid reaches its peak during the night of August 11 and 12. The Perseid meteor shower occurs around the same time every year and can produce between 60 and 100 meteors per hour. Northern Hemisphere observers will generally see many more meteors than those in the south.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.





Last updated: August 6, 2012
First published: August 6, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Meteor Showers August 12


During the night from August 12 to 13, the people on Earth will have a chance to see one of the rarest meteor shower. During the night you will be able to see thousands of these falling stars until August 23, these meteors will have best visibilidy during the night from 12 to the 13 of August. There is a predicted number of about 100 meteros an hour.

Spread This Message, so people can enjoy.




Detailed Analysis
This message, which is circulating Facebook in the form of a graphic, informs users that later in August, people on Earth will be able to view one of the rarest of meteor showers. The message advises that, on the night of August 12 to 13, viewers will be able to see thousands of "falling stars" with a predicted number of around 100 meteors per hour. The message asks that users pass the information along so that others may also enjoy the show.

The message is basically factual, if a little hazy on the details. The event described in the message is referring to the Perseid meteor shower. Perseid is indeed a spectacular show for sky-watchers, although it could hardly be correctly described as one of the rarest of meteor showers. In fact, Perseid occurs at around the same time each and every year and has been observed by humans for thousands of years. An August 3 Astronomy News article about Perseid notes:

You can expect to see up to 80 “shooting stars” per hour when 2012’s best shower peaks Saturday night, August 11/12.
If you ask most skygazers to name their favorite meteor shower, the odds are good that “Perseid” will be the first word out of their mouths. This annual shower seemingly has it all: It offers a consistently high rate of meteors year after year; it produces a higher percentage of bright ones than most other showers; it occurs in August when many people take summer vacation; and it happens at a time when nice weather and reasonable nighttime temperatures are common north of the equator. No other major shower can boast all four of these attributes.

And an article about Perseid on Spacedex reports:

The Perseids have been observed by humans for about 2000 years, with the earliest knowledge of their existence emerging from the Far East. It is one of the finest meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60-100 bright, fast, and colorful meteors per hour during their peak. This annual meteor shower is active from July 23 through August 22, and usually peaks on August 11 and 12.

Perseids is extremely consistent in its timing and can potentially be observable for several weeks in the summer sky, conditional on your whereabouts, lighting conditions, and weather.

It should be noted that although the meteor shower is active for around a month, it peaks this year on the night of August 11/12 not the night of August 12/13 as suggested in the circulating message. However, August 12/13 should still provide viewers with plenty of action. Sadly, for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, Perseid is not as spectacular as it is for those in the north. Spacedex explains:

While the meteors are certainly bright, they are typically not much larger than a grain of sand. However, as they travel at immense speeds, these tiny particles put on an impressive show. Due to the way the comet’s orbit is tilted, dust from the Swift-Tuttle falls on Earth’s northern hemisphere. Unfortunately, this leads to extremely low visibility for those in Australia, New Zealand, and portions of South America.

Other meteor showers will occur later in the year. This YouTube video depicts the 2008 Perseid meteor shower:



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References

ASTRONOMY NEWS - Perseid meteor shower set to put on a great show
Spacedex - Perseids meteor shower
2012 Meteor Showers



Last updated: August 6, 2012
First published: August 6, 2012
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer