Wednesday, August 10, 2022

THE COLOR OF SHOOTING STARS

The coming days will be the best time to watch the Perseid meteors, which will peak around August 12. To watch the show the only things you will need are your eyes, something to lie down and sit back on and a dark sky away from light pollution.

After a while' of time spent admiring the sky your eyes will get used to the dark and hand by hand you will be able to distinguish increasingly weak and dim objects. Moreover, if initially all the stars appear white you will realize their different colors, such as the red of Antares and the yellow of Arturo. However, stars are not the only celestial objects to present a color, but this also happens for shooting stars (especially the brightest ones)!

Shooting stars are nothing more than small grains of dust from comets or asteroids that enter the atmosphere and vaporize leaving a luminous trail. The trail, which to an eye not accustomed to the dark appears white, actually presents a very specific color that depends on the chemical composition of the grain of dust!

And so it is that meteors composed of calcium will present a shade of purple color, those composed of iron a yellowish color and so on, as shown by this image.

Keep in mind that this year the peak of the Perseids coincides exactly with the phase of the Full Moon. The light from our satellite will make the sky brighter than usual and make it difficult to observe less luminous meteors. Because of this, it will be possible to notice the color of the brightest meteors and speedsters, while the others will appear as whitish tracks.

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