Enjoy this summer's celestial fireworks display of the most popular meteor shower of the year on August 12.
[00:00:02]Jane Houston Jones: What's Up for August. The Perseids and a Comet ISON update.
[00:00:07]Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
[00:00:13]If you've never seen a meteor shower, the summer Perseids are a great introduction.
[00:00:18]Meteor showers are the colorful debris of a comet or sometimes the debris of a fragmented asteroid.
[00:00:25]When a comet nears the sun, its icy surface heats up and releases clouds of gas and dirt
[00:00:31]forming a tail of debris that can stretch for millions of miles.
[00:00:35]As Earth passes near this dusty tail, some of the small dust particles hit our atmosphere and burn up
[00:00:42]creating great celestial fireworks for us to enjoy.
[00:00:46]The Perseids, the most popular meteor shower of the year, will peak Monday, August 12.
[00:00:51]The meteor shower radiates from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast after sunset.
[00:00:57]Just follow the Milky Way from the south to the north to find it.
[00:01:01]You'll see some Perseids all month long, before and after midnight.
[00:01:04]But you'll see the greatest number of meteors after midnight on Sunday and Monday mornings
[00:01:09]on either side of the shower's peak.
[00:01:11]With clear, dark skies up to 100 meteors per hour are projected.
[00:01:17]But even if you don't see hundreds, you'll see plenty of fast, bright Perseids.
[00:01:25]Jones: Comet ISON, which was visible at a very faint magnitude 15 point 5 from January through May
[00:01:31]is expected to be visible through small telescopes in late August.
[00:01:36]It should be visible low in the predawn sky, in the constellation Cancer near M 44, the Beehive Cluster.
[00:01:43]How bright will it be? Will its debris create its own meteor shower?
[00:01:47]Stay tuned for more news in the coming months.
[00:01:51]You can read more about small bodies such as comets and asteroids at
[00:01:55]w w w dot jpl dot nasa dot gov slash asteroidwatch.
[00:02:01]And you can read about all of NASA's missions at w w w dot nasa dot gov.
[00:02:07]That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.
[00:02:12]NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology