Annual Perseid meteor shower puts on spectacular, global show

Added by on August 13, 2012

Amateur astronomer Jens Hackmann, in Weikersheim, Germany, photographed Perseids meteors appearing to travel along the Milky Way / Photo credit Jens Hackmann via

The annual Perseid meteor shower, which took place from August 11-13, put on a spectacular show with shooting star displays that amazed stargazers around the world.

According to stargazers, the meteor shower peaked with about 100 meteors per hour – about two per minute. The meteor shower appears to radiate out of the constellation Perseus, from which the name of the meteor shower is derived.

The Perseid meteor shower was accompanied by a conjunction of the moon and Venus. A conjunction occours when planets appear to align or appear to be very close together; the last conjunction occurred in on June 1 between Mercury and Venus. The planets in the current conjunction appeared to be about six times closer than the conjunction of June 1.

The Perseids meteor shower occurs when the earth enters a debris field called the Perseid cloud created by comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids meteor shower is made up of debris that was ejected from the comet in 1862 with most of the debris being about 1,000 years old.

The Perseids meteor shower has been seen by humans for about 2,000 years. The meteor shower actually spans about one month, with the peak occurring sometime between August 9 and 14.

The peak rate of meteors in the 2009 Perseids was about 173 per hour.