Perseid meteor shower (“the Perseids”)

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The Perseids (pronounced /ˈpɜrsiː.ɨdz/ us dict: pûr′·sē·ĭdz) are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus.

Every year in early August, we can observe the Perseid meteor shower (“the Perseids”). And it’s a fascinating sky event.

Here’s a beginners’ guide to what it is and how best to enjoy it. (Perhaps, impress your friends with these astronomy questions and answers!)

Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it passes by the Sun. Most of the dust in the cloud today is approximately a thousand years old. However, there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that was pulled off the comet in 1862. The rate of meteors originating from this filament is much higher than for the older part of the stream.

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