NASA TV Will Broadcast Perseid Meteor Shower Program

NASA to Host Perseid Meteor Shower Program

Astronomer Fred Bruenjes recorded a series of many 30-second long exposures spanning about six hours on the night of August 11 and early morning of August 12, 2004 using a wide-angle lens. Combining those frames which captured meteor flashes, he produced this dramatic view of the Perseids of summer. There are 51 Perseid meteors in the composite image, including one seen nearly head-on. Credit: Fred Bruenjes

NASA TV will host a program for this week’s Perseid meteor shower, which is expected to be one of the best in years.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will broadcast a live program about this year’s Perseid meteor shower from 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday, August 12 to 2 a.m. Thursday, August 13. The event will highlight the science behind the Perseids, as well as NASA research related to meteors and comets. The program will air on NASA TV and NASA’s UStream channel.

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Every August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s orbital debris. This debris field — mostly created hundreds of years ago — consists of bits of ice and dust shed from the comet which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the premier meteor showers of the year.

The best opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower is during the dark, pre-dawn hours of August 13. The Perseids streak across the sky from many directions, with theoretical rates as high as 100 per hour. The last time the Perseids peak coincided with a new moon was in 2007, making this one of the best potential viewings in years.

This week, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters say the show could be especially good this year because the Moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on August 12-13.

Special guests on the live NASA TV broadcast include meteor experts Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser, and Rhiannon Blaauw, all of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, located at Marshall. They will provide on-air commentary, as well as answer questions online. Also scheduled to join the broadcast are experts from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, the American Meteor Society, and others.

Anyone can join in the conversation by tweeting questions to @NASA_Marshall with the hashtag #askNASA. Social media users may also post questions to Marshall’s Facebook page by replying to the August 12 Perseid Q-and-A post.

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