SHOOTING STARS. The month of August and its clear skies are conducive to the observation of shooting stars. The peak of Perseid observation took place on the night of Friday August 12 to Saturday 13. However, the shower of shooting stars continues for a few days.
[Mis à jour le 13 août 2022 à 20h40] The Perseids are not yet finished for 2022! Each year, they allow you to admire shooting stars in the sky. Every summer, the Earth crosses paths with the Perseid swarm, made up of debris left by comet Swift-Tuttle. This gives rise to a meteor shower which can be observed this year from July 17 to August 24, with peak visibility around August 10. In 2022, the most favorable night for observing shooting stars was Friday August 12 to Saturday August 13. However, showers of shooting stars will still be visible on the night of Saturday August 13 and the following. To see them, you have to settle in a place where the sky is clearly visible, far from light pollution.
After the Night of the Stars last week, the meteor shower can be viewed with the naked eye, without special equipment, and this, almost until the end of August. However, this year, the observation of the Perseids will be complicated by the full Moon. Arriving on August 11 in the night sky, it will prevent you from seeing as many stars as in other years. The ideal time to watch the shooting stars will be at 3 am. To find out the hours and observation tips, the meaning of these shooting stars and their next passage, discover our file below!
Made up of debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, the Perseid meteor shower is the most famous of the year because it is one of the most active. This meteor shower in the constellation of Perseus lasts from July 17 to August 24, with activity peaking on the night of August 12-13. It is the most spectacular of all, with 100 observable shooting stars per hour, or an average of one shooting star per minute!
You have to be awake at the beginning of the night before moonrise, until 3 am, to observe the shooting stars of the Perseids. Indeed, the light of the Moon interferes with observations and makes shooting stars invisible. However, if you are observing shooting stars after moonrise, stand with your back to the moon if possible. The brightness should not interfere with the observation of the most visible meteors, especially if you manage to be far from city centers or points of light. “To observe the shooting stars of the Perseids, it is best to turn to the northeast and observe a large portion of the sky around the constellation of Perseus“suggests the site specializing in astronomy Stelvision.
If a shooting star often lasts only a fraction of a second, it is better to contemplate carefully for a good quarter of an hour a large portion of the sky, preferably in complete darkness. Make yourself comfortable on a lounge chair! When you see a meteor, multiply your wishes, a well-known tradition! On your calendars: on the night of Thursday August 12 to Friday August 13, the Perseids meteor shower will be at its summer maximum, at 3 a.m. (Paris time) !
Find below all the essential advice for good preparation and good observation of the stars. Photography enthusiasts will learn all the tricks necessary to immortalize these magical celestial ballets.
No danger or need for specific equipment! Shooting stars are visible to the naked eye by everyone. No need therefore to take out the binoculars or the telescope, given the high speed at which the fireballs pass through the Earth’s atmosphere (an average of 50 km/second). About a quarter of shooting stars leave visible trails for several seconds. To be able to observe a shower of shooting stars in an optimal way, the sky must not be obscured by clouds, or by light pollution.
The chance of seeing a shooting star depends mainly on the period of observation, although other factors such as the observation area come into play. Shooting stars are actually small dust particles that enter the Earth’s atmosphere very quickly by producing a luminous trail visible from Earth. This dust comes from comets which, approaching the Sun, see their ice evaporate and pulverize very small pieces of rock forming a cloud of small rocky particles. When the Earth passes through these clouds, this dust creates shooting stars that can be admired in the sky.
This is why you will have an increased chance of observing shooting stars when the Earth passes through one of these swarms. This summer, you can take advantage of the Perseids whose peak intensity takes place at the beginning of August with around a hundred shooting stars per hour. During the Quadratides and the Gemenides, which take place in early January and mid-December respectively, you can observe up to 120 shooting stars per hour.
Finally, the viewing conditions can influence the number of shooting stars you will see. Give preference to sparsely urbanized areas, protected from light pollution. Try to find a place where the horizon is clear and a cloudless night.
This tradition seems to originate in ancient Greece, according to the Huffington Post. At the time, it was thought that the gods looked at the Earth by lifting the celestial vault, like a lid on the world. In doing so, they sometimes caused stars to fall: shooting stars. These events were interpreted as a sign that a god was observing the Earth, that is to say the best time to make a wish to him.
The stellar tradition, which occurs each year at the same period, will be perpetuated, but beware of confusion: it is obviously not a question of “star” strictly speaking, but of asteroid dust which passes very close to our planet and some of which come into “collision” with the Earth. Shooting stars have nothing to do with stars. It is an extinct comet, or an asteroid which, while moving, leaves behind a large number of debris.
Luminous phenomena, shooting stars (or meteors) thus appear each time tiny meteorites come into contact with the dense layers of the atmosphere, at speeds ranging from 15 to 70 km per second. Due to the friction of the air, this dust – sometimes more or less large pebbles – becomes incandescent before volatilizing. Electrified as they pass, the air becomes luminescent, giving the impression of persistent streaks that seem to come from the same place in the sky: the constellation of Lyra for the Lyrids, that of Orion for the Orionids, Perseus for the Perseids , Leo for the Leonids or Gemini for the Geminids…
Several major stellar meetings of shooting stars take place during the year 2022. This summer, we do not miss the phenomenon of Perseids observable from July 17 to August 24, 2022, and whose peak of activity takes place on the night of August 12 to 13. Then check out the other most notable meteor showers that appear in the sky throughout the year, in chronological order of appearance below:
- The Orionids: active from September 26 to November 22, they are particularly observable from October 20 to 21, in mid-autumn. The Orionids, named after the constellation Orion (easy to recognize, its seven brightest stars form a bow tie or slightly tilted hourglass!), are visible in the northern hemisphere at this time of year . Depending on the year, between 50 and 75 shooting stars pierce the sky every hour.
- The Leonids: Located in the zodiac constellation of Leo, the Leonids meteor shower appears from November 3 to December 2 with peak activity from November 17 to 18. If 10 to 20 shooting stars are observable in the sky per hour, every 33 years, the spectacle becomes unforgettable after the passage of comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle: the rain of shooting stars then turns into a storm, with thousands of meteors in one night!
- The Geminids: produced by a celestial object called “3200 Phaethon”, the Geminids would thus come not from comets, but from asteroids. Active from November 19 to December 24, their peak of activity is between December 13 and 14 with an hourly rate of 60 to 75 meteors, or even 120 to 160 meteors per hour at the strongest. To observe them, visualize the constellation Gemini above the eastern horizon.
- The Ursids: this meteor shower is active from December 13 to 24, associated with comet 8P/Tuttle. The peak of the Ursids takes place just before Christmas on the night of December 21 to 22. It is of low intensity, with 10 to 20 meteors per hour.
- The Quadrantids: active during the winter nights between December 26 and January 16, they display a rate of 25 meteors per hour during the night of January 2 to 3. They originate from the sleepy comet 2003 EH1.
- The Lyrids: Located in the constellation of Lyra and active from April 16 to April 25, the Lyrids meteor shower peaks on the night of April 21 to 22 each year, with a rate of 5 to 20 meteors observable on time. It is associated with comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.
- The Eta aquarids: active from April 19 until May 28, mainly visible in the southern hemisphere, the meteorite swarm is supplied by Halley’s comet. Its peak is located on the night of May 4-5, with a rate of 30 meteors per hour.