Look up early Friday a.m. for celestial show.

August 09, 2005 11:00 pm
For the best view, look east before sunrise Friday morning and locate Perseus.  (Courtesy NASA).
For the best view, look east before sunrise Friday morning and locate Perseus. (Courtesy NASA).

By LISA BRITTON

Of the Baker City Herald

Friday morning is a great time to make a wish on a shooting star during the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower.

Better have a lot of wishes though — you could see hundreds of meteors between the hours of 2 a.m. and dawn, according to NASA.

The source of the show is Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Earth's orbit intersects with the comet's tail every year in July and August.

This year the Perseids give the best performance on Friday, and the crescent moon isn't bright enough to interfere with seeing the meteors.

NASA explains the nighttime show like this: "Tiny bits of comet dust hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 132,000 miles per hour. At that speed, even a tiny smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light — a meteor — when it disintegrates."

Perseid meteors emerge from the constellation Perseus, which is most visible — and high in the sky — during the pre-dawn hours.

According to NASA, "sky watchers outdoors at the right time can see colorful fireballs, occasional outbursts and, almost always, long hours of gracefully streaking meteors."

And, since you're outside anyway, turn to the east and check out the reddish glow of Mars, which is currently the brightest object in the night sky and will remain that way through October.

More information: www.nasa.gov