By Chana Ya’ar, www.IsraelNationalNews.com
Skies throughout the Holy Land were a bright blue Thursday, clearing the way for Israelis to hopefully get a good view at night of the upcoming Perseid Meteor shower.
The annual “show” is actually expected to light up the skies overnight Thursday for everyone living in the northern hemisphere. The moon is just a few days past “new” at this, the peak of the shower, contributing little if any moonlight to compete with the glow of the faint meteors, which appear as shooting stars.
Viewers should expect to see a maximum of a few dozen meteors per hour, according to the Star Date.org stargazing web site.
The Perseid meteor shower, observed for more than 2,000 years, was first recorded in China. The point from which the meteor shower appears to emanate – called the “radiant” – lies within the constellation Perseus, located in the northern sky and named after the ancient Greeks’ mythical hero Perseus.
Special viewing events have been scheduled for the Perseid Meteor shower all around Israel.
Professor of Astrophysics Tzvi Piran of the Hebrew University told Israel National News when to best view the meteor shower in Israel. “Very late tonight is the best time,” said Prof. Piran. “The peak is between 3:00 – 5:00 AM. In principle you can see it from everywhere, but what you need is a dark place. Therefore, outside the city is good. If you go into the Negev that’s probably the very best place. Near Jerusalem, one of the darkest places is Har HaTayasim. Then, just lay flat on the ground and look at the sky.”
When asked if there have been meteorite landings in Israel, Piran said “None that are known.” Piran added that the well-known Ramon crater and the Large and Small Craters in the Negev desert were definitely not formed from meteorite landings. “The craters in Israel are not meteorite craters. They are unique geological structures.”
Tour guide Denis Weintraub noted that the “show” can be seen from anywhere in the country, but added that it is “best seen from areas where there is little peripheral light from the city landscape” – for example, the Arava or the Ramon Crater. There are a number of activities that have been formally organized, he said, but one need not participate in order to enjoy the sights. Viewing is best at 2:00 a.m., opined Weintraub, who posted an update for English speakers on the Anglobeersheba email list serve, which networks English speaking immigrants in southern Israel.
There is even an official Hebrew-language Internet web site devoted to the subject, Meteors.org, which lists all the official shows and other events connected with the meteor shower. A set of directions (in Hebrew) on how to best view the meteor shower is one of the features posted on the site by the Israel Association for the Preservation of Nature, the Mitzpe Ramon Municipal Council, the Astronomy Club of Tel Aviv University and the Science Authority. (For those readers who cannot find a Hebrew-fluent friend, it is possible to use Google’s “translate” tool to derive a basic translation of the text.)