Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Perseids Meteor Shower - August Sky Extravaganza!

Perseid Meteors - Credit www.meteorwatch.org

Monday, 12 August 2013 was a fabulous night in North Wales for stargazing and meteor watching. A stunning rainbow early evening predicted the pending clear skies, but I couldn't have anticipated the fabulous night scene that was about to unfold.

As darkness started to creep in, the clouds began to clear and just after returning indoors from seeing a fairly bright ISS pass around 9.30 pm the first taste of what was to come was spotted through the window in the form of a shooting star. On came the shoes, fleeces and hoodies and outside we went to look up at the heavens.

After about 10 minutes, a glorious reddish, yellow ball shot across the sky from North to South. The Perseids radiant was located using my Google Skymap and as darkness engulfed us a few more streaks of light were spotted ... it was showtime!

Sitting in our garden chairs, heads tilted back skywards we didn't have long to wait. Gazing generally up at the sky we watched the sky darken and the heavens light up with stars. The Milky Way was clearly in view, its hazy cloud of light displaying its millions of stars in all their splendour and as we gazed into deep sky we were intermittently delighted by a Perseid meteor chasing over us.

ISS passes over Vega in North Wales 12/08/2013 - Credit KDP
The next ISS pass was due at 11:01 pm so we took up our positions ready to try to spot it. We didn't have to try very hard because at 11:02 the glorious sight of the International Spacestation came into view. Following a path from West to East it climbed high overhead, illuminated in brilliant light from the sun like a golden Eagle soaring against the backdrop of the beautiful sky we were seeing. We watched as it rose to its highest point and then slowly started to fade and turn a fiery orange red colour, mere seconds before it disappeared overhead from our view. The best ISS pass I've seen this year, a fabulous grand finale to our stargazing extravaganza.

Read more about the Perseids and ISS passes on Meteorwatch or follow VirtualAstro on Twitter for regular updates and sky events as they happen!

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