Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perseid meteor shower to light up night sky for a week

The meteor shower is expected to peak between 12:30 and 3 p.m. Wednesday but sky watchers only can see the meteors in the dark. So sit tight until the sun sets, then look up. You could see up to one meteor a minute. The show should continue for at least a week. Discovered in 1862, the comet is a giant iceberg made up of ice, rock and dust particles that likely has been in orbit for thousands of years. Particles -- about the size of a sesame seed when clustered together -- slowly have been eroding from the comet every time it has approached the sun, leaving a trail of debris that the Earth's orbit intersects once a year.The particles, known as meteoroids, create a meteor shower when they collide with the Earth's atmosphere and burn up, forming fiery streaks across the sky.
A bright meteor glows as much as the brightest stars in the sky. And pay close attention: They zip across the sky at about 132,000 m.p.h., leaving a gazer's sight in a second or two.

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