This year, on the nights of August 11th to 14th, we can enjoy the observation of the Perseids, also known as the “Tears of San Lorenzo”.
A true spectacle, this astronomical phenomenon can be followed online from the Canary Islands and Extremadura. Although popularly known as “shooting stars,” they are actually fragments of meteors. These are luminous trails created when some dust particles of cometary origin enter our atmosphere.
Around this time each year, Earth passes through the cloud of dust and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle during its multiple orbits around the Sun. This phenomenon occurs regularly and is known as the Perseid meteor shower. Every evening between mid-July and late August we can enjoy the celestial spectacle of the Perseids or “Tears of San Lorenzo”.
Perseids at their best on August 13th
According to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the meteor shower is expected to reach its maximum splendor at dawn on August 13 this year. In Europe, the period from August 11th to 14th is the best evening to enjoy this activity.
How the Perseids are formed
Although their name may be misleading, “shooting stars” have nothing to do with the giant flaming balls of gas that are stars. The only relationship between the two is the name. When we use the term “shooting stars,” we’re actually referring to tiny dust particles that are many times smaller than a grain of sand. These particles break off from comets or asteroids as they orbit around the Sun.
The melting caused by solar heat creates a cloud of particles, so-called meteoroids, which spreads over the entire orbit of the comet. During its annual journey around the sun, the earth passes through this cloud of particles. In the encounter mentioned above, small grains of dust break up and are released into the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. This phenomenon leads to the formation of luminous trails, which, in scientific terminology, are called meteors.
Particles of Comet Swift-Tuttle
In the case of the Perseids, the celestial body they detach from is the Swift-Tuttle comet. Discovered in 1862, it is about 26 km in diameter and is the largest object to regularly approach Earth.
The name “Perseids” comes from the constellation Perseus, as they appear to appear from the point in the sky where that constellation is located (its radiator).
Light pollution is one of the biggest disadvantages in astronomical observations. So, if you want to enjoy the long-awaited summer meteor shower, the first thing you should do is pick a spot with clear skies and away from city lights. This way you can fully enjoy the heavenly spectacle.
It will be crucial to wait until midnight to observe the constellation Perseus at its highest point in the sky, directly overhead. This allows us to fully enjoy this astronomical experience.
In order to fully enjoy this astronomical event, it is important to take into account some details. First of all, it is advisable to find a comfortable position and wear warm clothes, since we will be observing the same point in the sky for about 15 minutes. We must also arm ourselves with patience, for it may be a while before we can witness the heavenly spectacle. In favorable conditions it is possible to see between 20 and 25 meteors during this period.
Live from the Canary Islands and Extremadura
Great news for Perseid Shower fans: you can watch the spectacle online! One possibility for this will be the sky-live.tv channel on YouTube, which will offer the live broadcast. This initiative allows those who cannot see it in person to enjoy the phenomenon from the comfort of their own home via the Internet. On the night of August 12-13, from 11:50 p.m. (Peninsula time), the organizers will broadcast an impressive astronomical phenomenon from the skies of the Canary Islands and Extremadura.
The observatories of Teide in Tenerife and Roque de los Muchachos in La Palma, as well as the International Center for Sport Innovation in the Natural Environment “El Anillo” in Guijo de Granadilla, Cáceres, are excellent places for observation and scientific study. These locations provide optimal conditions for astronomical research and the development of innovative sports activities in natural environments.
This event is part of the dissemination activities of the Interreg Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs) project. The event is part of the actions to disseminate the results and progress made within the project with the support of the IAC, the Junta de Extremadura through the Extremadura Buenas Noches project, the Astrotourism Promotion Program of SODEPAL and the Cabildo de La Palma , the MAGIC telescopes and the Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO).
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