The dawn of next Friday (13) marks the peak of the classic annual meteor shower Perseids, one of the most famous and intense. The name refers to the constellation Perseus, from which popular shooting stars usually emanate at this time of year. And it’s all just the bran of the comet, more specifically the Swift-Tuttle, a star that passes through the Sun’s surroundings every 133 years. Though he’s not around at the moment, there’s a trail of dust from his last pass. When the Earth crosses its orbit, these tiny grains find our atmosphere and burn, producing the visual spectacle.
With its radiant (where the meteors seem to leave, if you draw a line in the opposite direction to its movement) in the boreal constellation of Perseus, the phenomenon is more intense the further north you are, but by the southern bands it will also be possible to see it. In Brazil, the further up the map, the better. Thus, the North and Northeast regions have better conditions than those of the Midwest, Southeast and South. Despite these variations, no one should be discouraged, no. With a little patience, everyone can collect a handful of shooting stars.
The basic suggestion, given by astronomer Gabriel Rodrigues Hickel, from Unifei (Federal University of Itajubá), is to look for a place with good visibility of the sky — the more view of the celestial vault, the better — and lie down. The period between 3 am and sunrise is ideal. “There is no specific region of the sky to look at,” says Hickel. “The ideal is to look for a dark place, far from the light pollution of big cities, with a clear horizon (no buildings, trees or nearby hills) and lie down in a beach chair, in order to see as much of the sky as possible. ”
The astronomer suggests at least an hour of observation to see a good number of meteors. For locations close to the equator, an incidence of 25 to 40 meteors per hour is expected. As you move south on the map, the rate decreases, until you reach approximately 5 meteors per hour in the south of the country. But it is worth remembering that these are rates that take into account the entire sky and good observation conditions. It is therefore necessary to modulate expectations. “Be patient and don’t expect a fireworks show,” says Hickel. “Watch for at least an hour to see a decent number of meteors.”
The best period to observe, in Brazil, is between 3am and 6am. And the good news is that this year the Moon, in a thin crescent, does not risk overshadowing observations with its brightness. Good heavens!
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