2010-08-11 23:26:37.000 – Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist
Be Sure to Look Up!
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Not exactly in the style of Chicken Little, but an impressive show nonetheless.
I’m referring to the Perseid Meteor Shower, streaking the skies above for the next few days. The shower is created by earth passing through a field of debris, which are the remnants of an ancient comet. As these heavenly bits collide with our atmosphere at over 140,000 mph, they burn up and create a dazzling spectacle amongst the heavens, visible across the globe. NASA officials say, at the peak of the event, which will occur on Thursday night, 80-100 meteors per hour could be seen by observers below!
I had heard this past weekend that said shower would be peaking during the latter part of the week, and I was thrilled that these dates would land while I was on the summit. However, a grain of salt had to be taken, because unanticipated fog can turn what promised to be a spectacularly clear night into a dark and starless evening.
Imagine our dismay this evening when the sun was sinking in the western horizon and fog began to taunt the summit. The soupy fog thickened, and I lost hope and already began to look ahead at Thursday Night’s chances of a meteor viewing.
However, I emerged for an observation at 10 p.m. EST to find the fog had quickly receded, and in its stead was a gloriously clear sky. With the new moon having occurred on Tuesday, it was a perfect setup for a star-filled scene. The Milky Way was as remarkable as I’ve seen it all summer, and the constellations were crystal clear. Amidst the sky to the northeast, seemingly on a whim, a bright orb abruptly illuminated and sprinted across the nighttime scene, with a reddish glow trailing behind it. The glow lingered in the heavens for a few fleeting seconds, and then, as swiftly as it appeared, faded into the blackness. It was an awe-inspiring commencement to what I hope will be a three-night spectacle of the sky tumbling to the earth!
Mike Carmon, Staff Meteorologist