The Meteor Shower of the Decade Is Coming Next Week

If you find yourself outside during the night next Thursday, don’t forget to look up. On August 11 and 12, the biggest meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be lighting up the night sky, and this year the Perseids promise to be the best shower of the decade.

The Perseids typically peak in mid-August every year, when the Earth intersects with the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Debris from the comet impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and streaks across the sky, creating shooting stars.

Typically, the Perseids’ peak features about 100 meteors per hour. But this year, we may see twice that many thanks to an “outburst,” which occurs when the Earth runs into leftover debris from past orbits of the comet as well as debris from the current year. The extra material combines to create a truly spectacular meteor shower.

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Today in history

April 25, 1990–The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope, a long-term space-based observatory, into a low orbit around Earth.

The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an unparalleled view of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. Initially, Hubble’s operators suffered a setback when a lens aberration was discovered, but a repair mission by space-walking astronauts in December 1993 successfully fixed the problem, and Hubble began sending back its first breathtaking images of the universe.

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CalTech scientists think they have found a 10th planet!

Well, they say ninth planet, but we all know that Pluto is the ninth planet.

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

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Happy winter solstice!

Or summer solstice, if you happen to be in the southern hemisphere.

The December solstice happens at the same instant for all of us, everywhere on Earth. This year the solstice occured on Tuesday December 22nd at 04:49 GMT (Universal time). For us in the US Central Time Zone, it occurred at 10:49 CST last night.

The winter solstice happens every year when the Sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, when the North Pole is tilted furthest – 23.5 degrees – away from the Sun, delivering the fewest hours of sunlight of the year.

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