One more year, the sky-live.tv channel will broadcast the maximum of Perseids since the Canary Observatories, with the collaboration of the project Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs), which coordinates the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute (IAC), and the Innovation Service of the Island Council of La Palma. The date will be the night of August 12-13, when the activity of this meteor shower is estimated to reach 100 meteors per hour.
Although the first records of the Perseids date from the year 36, it was not until 1835 that the Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quetelet identified the radiant of this meteor shower (the point in the sky where they appear to be born) in the constellation of Perseus, from the that are named after them. The Perseids, also known as “Tears of Saint Lawrence”, is a meteor shower originated in the cloud of dust and rocks that Comet Swift-Tuttle has left behind in each of its orbits around the Sun. Each year for On this date, the Earth traverses the comet’s trail and, when the small particles that were detached from it brush against the Earth’s atmosphere, the luminous traces that we know as “shooting stars” are produced.
For the year 2021 the activity of the Perseids will occur between July 17 and August 24. The maximum is expected at dawn from August 12 to 13. Therefore, those nights and those of the next days, between August 11 and 14, they will be the best to enjoy this meteor shower. In addition, this year, the low luminosity of the Moon – there will be a new Moon on August 8 – will facilitate the possibility of seeing even the weakest meteors. According to the calculations of the standard models, the activity of the Perseids will be around 100 meteors / hour (ZHR or zenith hourly rates).
What are the so-called “shooting stars”?
We know as “shooting stars” small dust particles of different sizes, some smaller than grains of sand, that are detached from comets or asteroids along their orbits around the Sun. The resulting cloud of particles (called meteoroids) , due to the “thaw”Produced by solar heat, it is dispersed by the comet’s orbit and is traversed by the Earth on its annual journey around the Sun. When these particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed, they disintegrate and end up emitting that typical trace luminous that we call a “shooting star” or meteor (its scientific name).
The Perseids are parent by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 130 years or so and was discovered in 1862. At about 26 km in diameter, it is currently the largest object that periodically approaches the earth.
Counting stars as a family
Meteor showers are not only a beautiful spectacle of the sky, but thanks to them, we can and must do Science. Knowing well the number of meteors per unit of time, or what is the same, the activity of the rain, is very important because it will help us to reveal the density of meteoroids in the orbit, in this case, Comet Swift-Tuttle. For the Perseids of 2021, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) have joined forces under the citizen science project Star Counters (www.contadoresdeestrellas.org/), funded by the FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology), and have developed a didactic activity so that any citizen can collaborate in these counts. The guide describes the procedure to follow, by means of some apps that they must have previously installed on their mobile devices and using a very basic material. The challenge is to ensure that, in a simple way, the general public can also participate and understand this astronomical phenomenon, as well as other curiosities of the sky that are described in the guide. This activity is proposed to be carried out as a family or in teams, since the event in many cases coincides with the holiday period and it is very common for citizens to take the opportunity to go out and observe.
Included within the project’s dissemination activities Energy Efficiency Laboratories (EELabs), which studies the impact of light pollution on the natural areas of Macaronesia and ensures the protection of the darkness of its skies, the sky-live.tv channel will broadcast this meteor shower live from the Canary Observatories (in Tenerife and La Palma), led by its coordinator, Miquel Serra-Ricart. “With the Perseids the show is assured. Last year we had an activity of 78 meteors per hour while in 2019 they reached 99. The forecasts for this year are very good, especially if we think that we will be able to see the weakest Perseids thanks to not having the ambient light of the Moon ”, says Serra-Ricart.
The appointment will be next Wednesday, August 12 at 23:15 UT (August 13, 00:15 local time in the Canary Islands, 01:15 CEST, local time in Europe). Link to YouTube: https://youtu.be/RgD0w7TAmqE
EELabs (eelabs.eu) is a project financed by the INTERREG VA MAC 2014-2020 Program, co-financed by the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) of the European Union, under contract number MAC2 / 4.6d / 238. Five centers in Macaronesia work at EELabs (IAC, ITER, UPGC, SPEA-Azores, SPEA-Madeira). The objective of EELabs is to create Laboratories to measure the Energy Efficiency of Artificial Night Light in protected natural areas of Macaronesia (Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores).
Three Spanish supercomputing centers: the Extremadura Center for Advanced Technologies (CETA-CIEMAT), the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya (CSUC) and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) will collaborate in the distribution of the web portal broadcast (sky-live.tv).