Astronomy

Understanding Meteor Showers the Pleiades the Perseid and more



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Named "Perseids" because the meteors radiate from the Perseus constellation, the legendary Perseid meteor shower, peaking last month with the largest number of meteors on August 12-four weeks before the Peru meteorite hit-has always been historically connected with folklore dating back to the Greek god Zeus.

The ancient story has it that Danae was Perseus' mortal mother, who had been visited in a shower of gold dust that was secretly symbolizing the entrance of Zeus. Her father, the King of Argos-Acrisius-had hid her in a tower when he heard the oracle that she would bear a child who would kill a king. This may not have been such a special thing in itself, but the Greek God Zeus had heard of her beauty and visited her in a shower of gold dust causing her to become pregnant with the prophesied child. When the son of Zeus and Danae was born with the name of Perseus, the King threw him and the mother in a wooden chest and tossed them into the sea.

A fisherman rescued the chest and its inhabitants, with the name of Dictys who lived at the island of Seriphos. With the golden shower symbolizing the meteor showers that visit Earth, this child was raised to be the first King of Mycenae, and also is known for the killing of the Gorgon Medusa and the rescue of Andromeda. To make a long story short, Perseus killed King Polydectes for forcibly wanting to marry his mother, and accidentally killing his own grandfather, King Acrisius, to fulfill the prophecy.

Famous for being able to see about 10 to 15 meteors per hour coming up from the northern horizon, the Perseid meteors can be seen as early as July 23 with just a few meteors being seen-slowly being seen at an increase for the next three weeks or so. At the beginning of August the possibility of five Perseids per hour will develop, with 15 per hour by the tenth. But from August 12th or 13th they will be at a rapid increase of 50 to 80 meteors per hour, then slowly declining to ten an hour by the 15th of August. The very last ones will be seen around the 22nd.

According to the web Meteor Shower Online, they are fast with speed and will appear to move faster than other meteors, with the Perseid meteors easy to detect from any other ones. Mentally trace the meteor backwards, and if it is a Perseid meteor it will end up at the Perseus constellation. (http://www.amarsodyssey.com/2007/09/27/the-famous-legendary-perseid-meteor-shower/)

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