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Perseid meteor shower thrills

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Perseid meteor shower thrills

Thanks to a new moon, the Perseid meteor shower on Wednesday and Thursday nights was one of the best in years.

Although the view of the meteor shower was best in the northern hemisphere, skywatchers in South Africa caught a glimpse of it as well.

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2 000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years.

Every August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s orbital debris. This debris field – mostly created hundreds of years ago – consists of bits of ice and dust shed from the comet which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the premier meteor showers of the year.

The Perseids could be seen streaking across the sky from many directions, with theoretical rates as high as 100 per hour

Pictured: Astronomer Fred Bruenjes recorded a series of many 30 second long exposures spanning about six hours using a wide angle lens. Combining those frames which captured meteor flashes, he produced this dramatic view of the Perseids of summer. There are 51 Perseid meteors in the composite image, including one seen nearly head-on.

Credits: Fred Bruenjes