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WHAT IS THE PERSEIDS METEOR SHOWER?

Focus: Prelims, GS-III Science and Technology

Introduction

The Perseids meteor shower is going to be active in August 2020, and the annual celestial event is considered the best meteor shower.

What are meteor showers?

  • Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.
  • Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.
  • When a meteor reaches the Earth, it is called a meteorite and a series of meteorites, when encountered at once, is termed as a meteor shower.
  • As meteors fall towards the Earth, the resistance makes the space rocks extremely hot and, as meteorites pass through the atmosphere, they leave behind streaks of glowing gas that are visible to the observers and not the rock itself.
  • According to NASA, over 30 meteor showers occur annually and are observable from the Earth.

What is the Perseids meteor shower?

  • The Perseids meteor shower peaks every year in mid-August and was first observed over 2,000 years ago.
  • The Perseids occur as the Earth runs into pieces of cosmic debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
  • The comet Swift-Tuttle takes 133 years to complete one rotation around the sun.
  • Every time comets come close to the sun, they leave behind dust that is essentially the debris trail, which the Earth passes through every year as it orbits around the Sun.

-Source: Indian Express

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