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Drive to outskirts for glimpse of today’s meteor shower
The Perseids meteor shower that happens annually is one of the most spectacular celestial events across the world – and this year, Chennaiites are all set to enjoy the experience by travelling to spots on the outskirts of the city, far away from the light pollution on Sunday night.
With dark skies being the prerequisite for the occasion, some organisations like SPACE Chennai have even organised a short trip to the likes of Yelagiri Hills for people to celebrate the event properly.
“This is one of the brightest meteor showers, and it is best enjoyed at a site where the skies are dark and clear, away from buildings and population. The meteors are expected at the rate of 60/70 per minute and will be fantastic to witness then. It will start at 11 pm, with a peak around midnight and go on till 4 am,” says Neeraj Ladia, one of the organisers.
The astronomy activity will also have experts pointing out other planets, galaxies and nebula, while photographers will be looking to capture the best shots. With Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn expected to be visible, telescopes will also be present. But the meteor shower can easily be witnessed with the naked eye. How is the Perseids meteor shower caused though? The Perseids have presented a stunning display for 2,000 years, according to NASA. The Comet Swift-Tuttle, a periodic comet, orbits the sun every 133 years – and every August, the Earth will pass through the comet’s debris. “The comet’s tail leaves behind dust that burn up when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere (travelling at 59 km per second) – and causes a brighter shower than any other,” Neeraj explains. When they’re in space, the pieces of debris are called “meteoroids,” but when they reach Earth’s atmosphere, they’re designated as “meteors”.
Meanwhile, astronomy enthusiasts across the city, like Lalitha Ravi, won’t be able to trek to the outskirts, but plan to experience it from ECR near the beach with some friends. “It’s important to take in a lot of the skies and sit outside for two to three hours. Let your eyes adjust to the dark and the sights get better with time. One meteor is expected every minute, and you’ll be able to see bright fireballs whizzing by. I hope the rains don’t play spoilsport,” she said.