French Meteor Observing Network -

REseau Français d'ObseRvation des MEtéores

Observing campaign : Perseids 2008

French version

This shower is very famous among observers, even the people that aren't used to watch at meteors : its important activity, combined with the cool temperatures of summer nights make of it an astronomical appointment that no one can miss. Althought this is not the shower which is the easiest to observe in good conditions. So one have to take care before observing it, not to be disappointed...

Actually, as indicated by its name, the radiant of the Perseids lies in Perseus. Having a glance at a sky map, one can easily see that it's very low in the sky at the beginning of the night. And the lower the radiant is, the less meteors are observed ! Even if the ZHR is close to 100 at that time, only 15 to 20 Perseids will be observable ! Moreover, this year, the Moon will have just past its First Quarter, and will thus be present in the sky during the first half of the night, masking with its brightness the least luminous meteors. That's why observing Perseids in the evening this night is really not a good and efficient idea ! As you probably understood, it will be far much better to observe them during the second half of the night, when the Moon will have set, and the radiant will have raised. At this time, 70 meteors will be visible in a good sky above France and Europe !

This year the predicted maximum doesn't favor French observers. The 'classical' maximum which is the only one observed during the last years, will occur between 11h30m and 14h30m UT on August, the 12th, thus in broad daylight. But the advantage of Perseid shower, is that its activity is important several days before and after the date of the maximum, so August 11/12 and 12/13 nights should be very active meteorically, as well as the nights preceeding. That will be worth waking up in the middle of the night !

Perseids, which are associated to the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, are very fast meteors (the entry speed of meteoroids is 59 km/s). They can be qui bright, and even very bright, and often let persistant train lasting several seconds after the apparition of the meteor. To see the best part of the shower, and the nicest meteors, it's preferable to direct ones field of view in the direction of pegasus or Cygnus (remember not to glare directly at the radiant).

Clear skies to all!


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Dernière mise à jour : août 07, 2008.