SHOOTING STARS. The month of August and its clear skies are conducive to observing shooting stars. The peak of Perseid viewing occurred on the night between Friday, August 12 and Saturday, August 13. However, the shower of shooting stars will continue for a few days.
[Mis à jour le 13 août 2022 à 20h40] The Perseids are not yet finished for 2022! Every year they give you the opportunity to admire shooting stars in the sky. Every summer, Earth crosses paths with the Perseid swarm, which consists of debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle. This gives rise to a meteor shower that can be observed this year from July 17 to August 24, with maximum visibility around August 10. In 2022, the most favorable night to observe shooting stars was Friday, August 12 to Saturday, August 13. However, showers of shooting stars will still be visible on the night of Saturday 13 August and the following. To see them, settle in a place where the sky is clearly visible, far from light pollution.
After the Night of the Stars last week, the meteor shower can be seen with the naked eye, without special equipment, and this almost until the end of August. This year, however, observing the Perseids will be complicated by the full moon. Arriving on August 11 in the night sky, it will prevent you from seeing as many stars as in other years. The ideal time to see shooting stars is at 3 in the morning. To find out hours and observing tips, the meaning of these shooting stars and their next passage, find our file below!
The Perseid meteor shower, made up of debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, is the most famous of the year because it is one of the most active. This meteor shower in the constellation Perseus lasts from July 17 to August 24, with activity peaking on the night of August 12-13. It is the most spectacular of all with its 100 observable shooting stars per hour, or an average of one per minute!
You must be awake at the beginning of the night before the moon, until 03.00, to observe the Perseid shooting star. In fact, the Moon’s light interferes with observations and makes shooting stars invisible. But if you observe shooting stars after the moon, stand with your back to the moon if possible. The brightness should not interfere with the observation of the most visible meteors, especially if you manage to be far from city centers or bright spots. “To observe the shooting star of the Perseids, it is best to face northeast and observe a large part of the sky around the constellation Perseus” suggests the website specializing in astronomy Stelvision.
If a shooting star often lasts only a fraction of a second, it is better to carefully consider for a good quarter of an hour a large part of the sky, preferably in complete darkness. Feel comfortable on a lounge chair! When you see a meteor, multiply your wishes, a well-known tradition! In your calendars: on the night between Thursday, August 12 and Friday, August 13, the Perseid meteor shower will be at its summer maximum, at 03:00 (Paris time) !
Find below all the essential tips for good preparation and good stargazing. Photography enthusiasts will learn all the tricks needed to capture these magical celestial ballets.
No danger or need for specific equipment! Shooting stars are visible to the naked eye of everyone. It is therefore not necessary to take out the binoculars or the telescope, considering the high speed with which the fireballs pass through the earth’s atmosphere (50 km/second on average). About a quarter of shooting stars leave visible trails for several seconds. To be able to observe a shower of shooting stars in an optimal way, the sky must not be obscured by clouds or by light pollution.
The chance of seeing a shooting star depends mainly on the observation period, although other factors such as the observation area come into play. Shooting stars are actually small dust particles that very quickly enter the Earth’s atmosphere by producing a luminous trail that is visible from Earth. This dust comes from comets which, as they approach the Sun, see their ice evaporate and pulverize very small pieces of rock, forming a cloud of tiny rock particles. When the Earth passes through these clouds, this dust creates shooting stars that can be admired in the sky.
That’s why you’ll have an increased chance of observing shooting stars when Earth passes through one of these swarms. This summer you can take advantage of the Perseids, whose peak intensity takes place in early August with around a hundred shooting stars per hour. During Quadratides and Gemenides, which take place in early January and mid-December respectively, you can observe up to 120 shooting stars per hour.
Finally, the viewing conditions can affect the number of shooting stars you will see. Give preference to sparsely urbanized areas, protected from light pollution. Try to find a place where the horizon is clear and a cloudless night.
This tradition appears to have originated in ancient Greece, according to the Huffington Post. At that time, it was believed that the gods looked at the Earth by lifting the heavenly vault, like a lid on the world. In doing so, they sometimes caused stars to fall: Shooting stars. These events were interpreted as signs that a god was observing the Earth, that is, the best time to send him a wish.
The star tradition that occurs every year at the same period will be perpetuated, but beware of the confusion: it is of course not a matter of “star” strictly speaking, but of asteroid dust which passes very close to our planet and some of which come in ” collision” with Earth. Shooting stars have nothing to do with stars. It is an extinct comet, or else an asteroid, which, as it moves, leaves behind a large amount of debris.
Luminous phenomena, shooting stars (or meteors) thus occur every time small meteorites come into contact with the dense layer of the atmosphere, with speeds from 15 to 70 km per second. Due to the friction of the air, this dust – sometimes more or less large pebbles – becomes incandescent before it evaporates. Electrified as they pass, the air becomes luminescent, giving the impression of continuous streaks that seem to come from the same place in the sky: the constellation Lyra for the Lyrids, Orion for the Orionids, Perseus for the Perseids, Leo for the Leonids or Gemini for the Twins. .
Several large star meetings of shooting stars will take place during the year 2022. This summer we will not miss the phenomenon Perseids observable from July 17 to August 24, 2022, and whose peak of activity occurs the night between August 12 and 13. So check out the other most notable meteor showers that appear in the sky throughout the year in chronological order below:
- The Orionids: active from September 26 to November 22, they are especially observable from October 20 to 21 in mid-autumn. The Orionids, named after the constellation Orion (easy to recognize, its seven brightest stars forming a loop or slightly tilted hourglass!), are visible in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year. Depending on the year, between 50 and 75 shooting stars pierce the sky every hour.
- The Leonids: Located in the constellation Leo, the Leonid meteor shower appears from November 3 to December 2, with peak activity from November 17 to 18. If 10 to 20 shooting stars can be observed in the sky per hour, every 33 years, the spectacle becomes unforgettable after the passage of comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle: the shower of shooting stars then turns into a storm with thousands of meteors in one night!
- The Geminids: produced by a celestial object called “3200 Phaethon”, the Geminids would thus not come from comets, but from asteroids. Active from November 19 to December 24, their peak activity is between December 13 and 14, with an hourly rate of 60 to 75 meteors, or even 120 to 160 meteors per hour at their strongest. To observe them, visualize the constellation Gemini above the eastern horizon.
- Clockwise: this meteor shower is active from December 13 to 24, associated with Comet 8P/Tuttle. The peak of the clock faces takes place just before Christmas on the night between 21 and 22 December. It is of low intensity, with 10 to 20 meteors per hour.
- The Quadrantids: active during the winter nights between December 26 and January 16, they show a rate of 25 meteors per hour on the night between January 2 and 3. They originate from the sleepy comet 2003 EH1.
- The Lyrids: Located in the constellation Lyra and active from April 16 to April 25, the Lyrid meteor shower peaks on the night of April 21-22 each year, with a rate of 5 to 20 meteors observable at a time. It is associated with comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.
- The Eta Aquarius: active from April 19 to May 28, mainly visible in the Southern Hemisphere, the meteor shower is supplied by Halley’s Comet. Its peak is on the night of May 4-5 at a rate of 30 meteors per hour.