This year’s Perseid meteor shower is expected to be spectacular as double the usual rate of shooting stars are expected to occur, astrophysicist Chrysanthos Fakas said on Saturday.
The phenomenon, which is observed every August, will peak between August 11 and 13, while visibility will be better after 10.30pm looking towards the northeast.
Fakas said that especially this year, meteor density will be higher and reach 200 per hour, compared to the usual 100 per hour.
According to NASA, this is because the earth will collide with more material than usual from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is the source of the Perseids. Jupiter’s gravity has tugged the debris stream in such a way that earth will move closer to the middle of the stream, rather than the edge, NASA said. The last time this phenomenon was observed was in 2009.
The Perseids are so called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation of Perseus.
The meteor showers begun in July 17 and are expected to last until August 24. The meteors, or shooting stars will develop speeds up to 59 kilometres per second.
“It will be like travelling the distance between Nicosia and Larnaca in less than a second,” Fakas said.
According to the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation (CSEO), the best way to observe the meteor showers, is with the naked eye in a dark sky.
“We advise observers to choose a dark spot usually out of town, away from areas with light pollution, with wider optic field and without buildings,” the group said.
The darker the place, the more impressive the spectacle, they said.
On the occasion of the meteor showers, a number of star-gazing events are being organised by various groups on August 12 and 13. Experts said that this year, observers will also be able to see the planets of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.
Fakas schools and the ‘Friends of Astronomy’ club, are organising an event at the gardens of the Kyperounda hospital on August 12 between 9pm and 11.30pm, where attendants will have the opportunity to watch the meteor showers as well as a number of planets and constellations through telescopes.
For information: 22 432219, 25 532757, 99 131405, 99 643212.
Other shooting star events
The KITION Planetarium and Observatory is holding its ninth annual event to mark the Perseid meteor showers, at the Spot-KiteMed Kitesurfing school at Softades beach in Larnaca on August 13 at 8pm until early August 14. The area chosen for observation, the group said, is one of the darkest on the island. For more information:https://www.facebook.com/groups/kition/?fref=ts, or call 99 991111.
The Cyprus Amateur Astronomy group is organising a musical-stargazing night on August 12 at the botanical gardens in Troodos. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/cyprusamateurastronomy/
Friends of the Earth are organising a night trekking and observation of shooting stars on August 12, at 7.20pm in Troodos. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/308023172869398/?notif_t=plan_user_invited¬if_id=1470262822226330, or call 25 347042.