I received quite a few questions this week by email on a variety of subjects, from the Perseid meteor shower to an inquiry about why the earliest sunset of the year doesn’t happen on the shortest day.
As travelers on Earth, we orbit the sun at about 67,000 mph. At this point in our annual journey, our world is blasting through the stream of debris that lies along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which circles the sun about every 133 years. This produces the Perseid meteor showers.
Because the remains from this comet are moving in an opposite direction to Earth’s orbit, its small bits and fragments slam into the Earth’s upper-atmosphere at a combined velocity of 130,000 mph. At speeds like this, even the most minuscule pieces of debris can produce beautiful meteor showers. Unfortunately, this year’s display probably won’t be as good as previous years — and here’s why.
Why this year’s Perseid meteor shower isn’t as brilliant – The San Luis Obispo Tribune