|For immediate use||
July 24, 2002 -- No. 400
Perseid meteor shower promises best sky event of yearCHAPEL HILL -- The Perseid meteor shower is widely considered the best sky event of the year, and the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center will commemorate it with a public observing session Aug. 12.
The free session will be held, weather permitting, at Jordan Lake’s Ebenezer Church Recreation Area from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
"At its peak, the Perseids will display as many as 100 meteors per hour," said Austin Guiles, assistant director of planetarium operations. "This provides an impressive show to anyone interested in seeing it and doesn’t require a telescope or binoculars. Just lie out on a blanket or lounge chair in the late evening or early morning and look up.
"A reclining position is best for observing meteor showers, since the meteors will appear all over the sky. A dark sky location – away from city lights – will greatly enhance the experience, as well."
The upcoming meteor shower is called the "Perseids" due to its association with the constellation Perseus. However, Guiles said observers shouldn’t assume the meteors will be concentrated only in that constellation.
"They will appear over the entire sky. The meteor shower’s connection with Perseus is merely because all of the meteor trails would appear to point backward toward that constellation and would, therefore, seem to originate from that sky location."
For many centuries, meteors have been referred to as "shooting stars" or "falling stars" because they appeared to resemble stars falling from the sky. Actually, meteors begin as particles of rock and dust left in space by passing comets. As these particles encounter earth, they plunge into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The resulting friction briefly heats meteors to incandescence before they burn up, creating the brief streaks of light visible in the night sky.
For more information, call (919) 962-1236.
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Morehead Planetarium and Science Center contact: Carrie Anne Spinelli, (919) 843-7952