Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Great Balls of Fire Light Up Night

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Great Balls of Fire Light Up Night

Article excerpt

WATCH for shooting stars this weekend.

If you're able to get away from the city lights, you may be able to catch some fireballs as well from the Perseid meteor shower before they get washed out by the brightest supermoon of the year.

The good news is there's evidence this year's Perseid meteor shower is already ramping up.

People are already seeing fireballs from this annual shower, which peaks overnight on August 12 and early dawn August 13, any time after midnight from any part of Australia.

Generally this is a good shower for beginners, with estimates of dozens of meteors per hour.

As with all showers, the best time for viewing will be from around 3am until an hour before sunrise.

For the best view, try lying flat on your back, face eastward and give your eyes 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Meteor showers originate from leftover fragments of comets and asteroids.

Comets that travel through the sun leave dust behind, and when the Earth passes through that debris, those remnants clash with the atmosphere, disintegrate and generate colourful, sparkling streaks.

Meteoroids move very fast. Some enter the Earth's atmosphere at as much as 50km per second.

The International Space Station is covered with a thick layer of Kevlar, used in making bullet-proof vests, as protection from the 100,000 or so meteoroids striking it during its 20-year life span. True!

Meteorites contain the oldest-known rocks in our solar system, probably formed billions of years before our solar system was born.

More than 24,000 meteorites are known to have landed on Earth, but only 34 are believed to have originated on Mars.

Is there money in meteorites? Are they valuable? You bet. Many people make an excellent living buying and selling space rocks and some meteorites are as valuable, by weight, as gold nuggets. …

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