Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to View the Perseid Meteor Shower

Hey, what's that? - Advanced Planisphere

If you can't wait for tonight's Perseid meteor shower you might want to download a planisphere from Hey, what's that? in preparation. The advanced planisphere lets you overlay the horizon for your exact location on the night sky in Google Earth. It also lets you view the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets.

To create an advanced planisphere takes two steps. First you have to create your panorama at Hey, what's that?. All this involves is you clicking on your location on Google Maps. Once you have created your horizon panorama you can then add it to the Advanced Planisphere.

There are a number of options for you planisphere. I chose the option that creates an animation of the sky at one hour intervals for a full day. I chose this option so that I can see when the moon sets. Because we have a waxing moon the Perseid meteor shower should be very visible.

Once you have created your planisphere you can then view it in Google Earth. After you have opened the planisphere in Google Earth you might want to also turn on the constellations layer under Backyard Astronomy. The meteors are called Perseids because they appear to fly out of the constellation Perseus. If you have the constellations turned on you can easily find where Perseus is in relation to your location.

Here's hoping for a cloudless night.


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