Friday, August 10, 2007

Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend

AP LOS ANGELES -Summer's annual meteor shower promises to put on a dazzling show when it peaks this weekend - provided you're far from city lights. With no moon in sight to interfere with the Perseid meteor shower, skygazers can expect to spot streaking fireballs late Sunday into dawn Monday regardless of time zone. Astronomers estimate as many as 60 meteors per hour could flit across the sky at the shower's peak.

This year's sky show comes with an added bonus: Mars will be visible as a bright red dot in the northeastern sky.

"We have front-row seats this year," said Kelly Beatty, executive editor of Sky & Telescope magazine.

The Perseids, which are named after the constellation from which they appear to originate, Perseus, also used to be known as the “tears of St Lawrence” after a third-century archdeacon of Rome. When he was executed by the Romans, meteors streaked through the night sky and reappeared every year around St Lawrence’s feast day on August 10.

Because the first Perseid showers have already begun, increasing in volume to their maximum over Sunday evening and Monday morning, skywatchers may also be able to catch a glimpse of them on Saturday and Monday nights.However, the weather will have the final word on the Perseids display.

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