Planetary grouping for the Perseids

10 08 2010

You can see by this image I stole from Sky & Telescope that we’re due for a really cool planetary grouping in the west over the next few days.  It’ll be a real challenge to pull Mercury out of the glare of the setting sun (if not impossible without binoculars), but see if you can spot the other three planets this week.  They’ll be approaching the horizon around 9:30, so you’ll have to look before then.

And be sure to catch Jupiter rising in the east around 10pm.  It’s the brightest thing in the sky from that time until dawn this week, so you can’t miss it!

After 10pm you can start looking for Perseids.  The peak is Thursday night/Friday morning, but you can catch elevated rates of meteors all week.  Perseids tend to be quite fast, and the brighter ones look yellow to me.  About a third of them will leave persistent trains, which can leave an indelible memory for any witness.  Remember, even though they can light up the sky and leave a brilliant streak across the heavens, they’re rarely larger than your fingernail.  And Perseids almost never make it to the ground.  Each one will burn up at least 25 miles over your head.  Amazing, huh?

Let me know if you see something spectacular!

Boring title.  Awesome topic!




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