Today is shooting star night. Up to 100 comets per hour whiz through the area. Read here where, when and how you can best watch the Perseids night spectacle.
Munich – In August, wishes come true. In no other month do so many falling stars whiz through the night sky. Between July 17th and August 24th, the so-called Perseids make the (hopefully) mild summer nights shine particularly bright. All amateur astronomers, starry sky admirers and those in search of happiness should mark a specific day in their calendars. Then the comet spectacle will reach its climax, then it will be shooting star night in 2021.
The many shooting stars in the first half of August can be traced back to the Perseids Current, whose maximum activity is to be expected between August 9th and 13th. As the name suggests, the meteors of this river flow from the constellation Perseus. In the evening hours of August 12th, the current reaches its maximum. But since Perseus is deep in the northeast at this time, most shooting stars can only be seen in the early morning hours of August 12th.
Perseids 2021: When, where and how to see a particularly large number of shooting stars today
The best time to observe the Perseids spectacle in the night from August 12th to 13th is the period between around 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Then the constellation Cassiopeia is almost at the zenith and Perseus in the east around 20 ° lower. Most Perseid comets can be seen in this short period of time. Under ideal conditions, over 100 shooting stars can be observed per hour.
If the weather on August 12th doesn’t play along, you don’t have to do without a shooting star night entirely: Even in the days before and after midnight, more shooting stars can be seen than usual. On August 24th, the sky spectacle is over. In order to see the Perseids shine particularly brightly on the shooting star night, you should look for an environment that is as dark as possible – ideally outside the illuminated city. One should not look directly at Perseus. Looking at 20 to 40 degrees away from the radian, you can see the long, rapidly moving tracks better.
Shooting Star Night 2021: This is why the Perseids shine so brightly once a year
The Perseid meteors originate from fragments of the comet 109P / Swift-Tuttle that were blown off and scattered on its orbit around the sun. A comet is a celestial body that is at least a few kilometers in diameter. Most comets develop a tail, which we perceive as falling stars. The special thing about the Perseids: They shine brighter than other falling stars. Sometimes the so-called “fireballs” even reach the brightness of Venus.
If the earth crosses the comet orbit of the Perseids, then it collides with the dissolution products that penetrate into the earth’s atmosphere and burn up. The air molecules begin to glow in a row. The Perseids are fast falling stars that plunge into the earth’s atmosphere at 60 kilometers per second. The fall rate is a hundred meteors per hour. Since a single person can only see a fifth of the sky at a time, on average one only sees a falling star every three minutes.
Perseids 2021: origin, history and mythology of the shooting star night
The constellation Perseus is one of the 48 classic constellations that were once described by Ptolemy. It lies in the middle of the Milky Way and is said to represent the Greek hero of the same name and son of Zeus, who defeated the deadly Medusa. Because the Perseid spectacle, which was first discovered in China about two millennia ago, coincides with the festival of the martyr Lawrence on August 10, the falling stars are often referred to as “Laurentius tears” or “Tears of Laurentius”.
But why do we wish things when we see shooting stars? The origin of the popular superstition that a wish comes true when you discover a shooting star, close your eyes and keep your wish to yourself is not proven. A widespread explanation: In the past, people interpreted shooting stars as divine sparks of light – as wicks that angels fell down while cleaning the “heavenly candles”.
Shooting Star Night 2021: When the sky in Germany shines particularly brightly
In addition to the Perseids, there are other well-known streams of falling stars that can be seen in Germany throughout the year: They are already shining in January (maximum: January 3rd) Quadrantids, in November the Leonids (Maximum: November 17th) and finally in December the Geminids (Maximum December 13th). The Perseids are brightest in July and August. (jo / dpa)
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