Perseid Meteor shower

The Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak intensity on the 13th August this year. However it is worth watching out for them on the 12th as well. This is a nice shower to watch as the rates are reasonably high, the nights are (relatively)warm and this year there is no bright moon to get in the way. Any time after dark on the evening of the 12th or 13th of August will be a good time to look for them. No special equipment is needed. Have something to sit on so that you can comfortably see a good chunk of the sky, looking NE. See the map below. Although it is summer, sitting outside in the dark, you will get cold so make sure you have a blanket and warm clothes.

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The map shows the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate, called the radiant. The radiant for the Perseid meteor shower is marked with a red cross. The later you wait the higher the radiant and the more meteors you are likely to see. The best observing times will be from 11pm onwards. The meteors can appear in all parts of the sky but their trails will all appear to point back to this part of the sky. This is an effect of perspective. The meteors themselves are small grains of dust from comet Swift-Tutle.

Mercury Greatest Elongation July 30th

Mercury is at its greatest angular distance from the Sun on the morning of July 30th. At 9:39 am the planet will be 20° west of the Sun. At this time of the morning Mercury won’t be visible to us here in the UK. For us, the best time to observe Mercury will be around 4:20am. Mercury will be very low so you will need a good clear horizon to the NE. The picture below gives you an idea of what to look for:

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Comet PanSTARRS

If the weather ever clears up then there is a chance to see a bright comet over the next few weeks. See the chart below:

The chart shows the position of comet PannSTARRS over the next couple of weeks

The above chart shows the sky for 19:00UT on the 9th March 2013, with the trajectory of PanSTARRS overlaid on top of it.

You’ll need a good clear western horizon and a pair of binoculars. On the 13th there is a thin crescent Moon to the north of the comet:

PanSTARRS and the Moon on the 13th March 2013, 19:00UT.

Next main meeting

Just to remind you all that our next main meeting takes place on 11th March 2013 at the All Saints Methodist Church Hall, Dorchester Crescent, OX14 2AQ. Mr. Grant Privett is coming to tell you about 10 things to see.

As always, if anyone has anything they would like to talk about after tea then please let me know as soon as possible. It can be about anything astronomical.

Just to let you know, the church car park will be busy as the church also has events on Monday night. We have been asked by the church to keep the disabled bays free (the car park spaces next to the bins) so please don’t park in these bays.

Cheers,

Ian