2010 Perseid Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower occurs when debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle intercepts the Earth at a high velocity (59 km/s, 133,000 mph). This debris is somewhat diffuse, so we see activity for many days on either side of the peak. Like most meteor showers, this is named for the constellation its members appear to originate in: Perseus.

Shower Summary

2010 Perseid CompositeThis is a composite image of 207 meteors collected between sunset on August 7 through sunrise on August 14. Since the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is not in a fixed location. However, because most of the meteors occurred between 2am and dawn, and because the radiant's high declination means it doesn't move fast, most of the meteors appear to point back to the same general area of the sky - just above the left center of the image. Note also that meteors farther from the radiant tend to make longer trails, since they have a smaller component of their velocity towards the camera.

All 207 of the meteors in this composite are Perseids. Several showers are currently active, but meteors from those are not shown.

We are having a strong monsoonal weather pattern here, and many nights have been cloudy. Had the nights been clearer, many more meteors would be recorded. Fortunately, the peak night of August 12/13 was completely clear.

Long string-like images are stars or planets captured as they traveled across the sky over many hours. Jupiter can be seen trailing across the sky in the lower right corner. Bright star trails are evident for Capella, Aldebaran, Deneb, Vega, and Altair.

Selected Fireball Videos

Perseid Peak Time Distribution

2010 Perseid DistributionThis graph plots the distribution of meteors during the peak of the shower. Local sunrise was at UT 12:15, with twilight starting about UT 11:15. The raw count is distributed in 30-minute bins, and corrected to give approximate visual rates.


Perseid Date Distribution

2010 Perseid Distribution, DailyThis graph plots the distribution of meteors during the peak and the surrounding days. The raw count is distributed in 4-hour bins.

© Copyright 2010, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.