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Armagh Observatory Snaps Many Perseid Meteors


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Armagh Observatory reports that this year's annual Perseid meteor shower was predicted to reach its maximum shortly after midnight on the night of 12/13 August.

During several hours of clear sky, and despite a waning gibbous Moon, the meteor camera system operating at Armagh Observatory detected 58 meteors, including a bright -6 magnitude fireball. At 03:23:43 local time, two meteors emanating from the Perseid radiant were simultaneously captured on the same video clip, a first for Armagh.

The activity followed a steady profile with approximately 15 meteors detected per hour from midnight until 4 am. The detection rate dropped to 2 per hour between 2.00 and 3.00 in the morning due to cloudy conditions.

Most of the meteors appeared to leave luminous trails behind, which persisted for a few seconds; this is characteristic of the Perseids. Also notable was the short interval, sometimes only a few seconds long, between consecutive meteors, suggesting that some Perseids fragment before they enter the Earth's atmosphere.

A similar system operated by amateur astronomer Robert Cobain in Bangor detected 44 meteors on that night, 24 meteors on the preceding night, and 23 meteors on the following night, affording a comprehensive view of the 2006 Perseid maximum. Several of these meteors were simultaneously recorded by the Armagh and Bangor set-ups, providing a three-dimensional view of the trajectories of these small dust particles through the inner solar system.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tolis Christou or John McFarland at the Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG. Tel.: 028-3752-2928; aacarm.ac.uk; jmfarm.ac.uk

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Last Revised: 2006 August 16th
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