This week kicked off the Perseid meteor shower here in the northern hemisphere. The annual arrival of detritus falling to earth from the Swift-Tuttle comet began Aug 3rd and runs through the 24th. 2016 is particularly spectacular as it’s an outburst year due to the gravitational influence of Jupiter and Saturn on the comet’s trajectory. Both of which are also easily viewed in the western sky as darkness sets in.
At 3 O’clock this morning your correspondent hiked into the shadows of Peruvian Gulch to mask the light pollution of Salt Lake City, the right slopes providing the perfect east facing view. The only company aside from a few startled mule deer was a burning snag still smoldering and occasionally flaring up from a lightning strike during Sunday afternoon’s thunderstorm. Look for the meteors to originate in the east just below Cassiopeia (large sideways “W” high in the sky) where the constellation Perseus resides. The shower takes its name from the constellation and a cool little known fact is what you see with your eye is actually super-heated plasma.This weekend is the optimal viewing window and Little Cottonwood Canyon the perfect nearby viewing venue. There’s a full moon on the 18th, which will wash out the smaller meteors as we approach the date making this weekend your best opportunity.
Come up and catch a falling star…..figuratively speaking.