The Perseid meteor shower, which is caused by meteoroids crashing and burning high in Earth's upper atmosphere, will produce the greatest activity after 2 a.m. Tuesday. The show will continue into the early morning hours with the rate of meteors eventually reaching one to two meteors every minute.
Central Michigan University astronomer Christopher Tycner is available to comment on the origin of this annual meteor shower and how it can best be observed.
* "The Perseid meteors are the debris of a comet that is now far away from the sun where it spends most of its life in the coldness of space. However, during the Perseid shower, the Earth passes through the trail of dust debris that the comet left behind many years ago."
* "When one of these dust particles is intercepted by our planet as it orbits the sun, it causes the dust particle to completely burn up, leaving an eye-catching streak of light."
* "Perseid meteors appear to originate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast. The best view is in this direction and far away from city lights. Onlookers should find a safe dark site, such as a city or state park, where oncoming vehicle headlights won't interfere."
Tycner came to CMU from the U.S. Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station in 2007. He specializes in observational stellar astrophysics and studies circumstellar disks of hot stars using a variety of ground-based instruments including long-baseline optical interferometry and spectroscopy.
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