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Annual "Persieds" Meteor Shower to Light Up Sky

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/annualpers_4970.mp3

Right now, our planet is traveling through the debris left over by a rather large comet—the Swift-Tuttle comet, to be precise. The debris, as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, burns up, and causes the meteor shower known as the Persieds. Mike Reed, associate professor of astronomy at Missouri State University, joined KSMU’s Jennifer Moore to talk about the meteor shower, and when might be the best time to view it.

Reed said the Persieds get their name because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast sky.

He said Perseus is difficult to find by its shape alone; but it is found just below the constellation Casseopeia, which looks like a roughly-drawn “W.”

The meteors are tiny, for the most part—the size of a pebble or a speck of dust. They get super-heated when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere, and they leave a visible trace behind because they are traveling at such incredible speeds.

Typically, Reed said, the best time to view meteor showers is usually well after midnight. However, since tonight’s moon will be bright and won’t be rising until around 11:15, the best time to get out of town and lay down to look up at the sky would be around 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.