After reading this blog, you will know what the Perseid meteor shower is and why you should come to Wadi Rum to see this spectacular phenomenon.
Wadi Rum is one of those places on our planet where you can see and experience nature’s beauty. And it is also a place where you can feel how little we humans are and how small our say is. Nature and the elements rule. And you experience that we are part of something so much more significant.
That feeling gets only more overwhelming at night when you look at the starry night sky. The vastness of these billions of stars and all these solar systems’ out there’ make it even more evident how small and insignificant we are. Seeing the glittering sky in one of the darkest places on our planet is a mesmerizing experience. When you look up to the sky at night often, you know that the starry night sky is never the same as amongst others the size of the moon and the time of the year matter. But nature has more in store for us. What to think of the spectacle of a meteor shower?
Previously, we wrote the blog ‘5 reasons to watch shooting stars in Wadi Rum‘. That blog focuses on why Wadi Rum is such a magnificent place for watching a meteor shower. In this blog, we share more information about meteor showers, which ones are there, and when we can see them. More specifically, we share information about the upcoming Perseid meteor shower and why Wadi Rum is the place to go and see it. Lastly, we share what is needed to enjoy watching the Perseid meteor shower best.
General information about meteor showers
Meteor showers, more commonly known as ‘shooting stars’, like the Perseid meteor shower, start with asteroids and comets. Asteroids and comets are made up of a combination of loosely consolidated rocks and metals (asteroids) or loosely consolidated rocks, icy materials, and dust (comets). When an asteroid or comet passes close to the sun, it is heated. Because of that, it more or less slowly disintegrates, leaving a visible dusty trail of debris that lingers in space. Our planet quite often moves through such trails of debris. Then debris enters our atmosphere at extremely high speeds. The resistance of our atmosphere heats the debris rapidly. The bright streak that you see in the sky is not the debris burning. It is the glowing hot air as the hot debris passed through the atmosphere.
When living in an area with a lot of artificial light, you might hardly ever see meteor showers. So, it might surprise you, but they are not that rare. There are around 45 meteor showers a year. The most famous ones are:
– Quadrantids in January
– Lyrids in April
– Eta Aquariids in May
– Delta Aquariids in July
– Perseids in August
– Draconids and Orionids in October
– South Taurids, North Taurids, and Leonids in November
– Geminids and Ursids in December
The Perseid meteor shower
The Perseids come from the dust trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The 26 km in diameter comet orbit the sun every 133 years. It got its name from Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle, who discovered the comet back in 1862. The last visible appearance of Comet Swift-Tuttle was is 1992. And the next time is expected to be in 2126. For sure, we won’t be there to see that.
The meteors seem to appear anywhere in the sky. But if you trace their paths, the meteors appear to enter into the atmosphere from the same region. Meteor showers are named for the constellation that coincides with the area where the meteors enter our atmosphere. This area is known as the radiant. So, the Perseid meteor shower is called after its radiant, which is the constellation of Perseus. If you want to know more about Perseus, look at in-the-sky.org.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in July and August with its peak between the 11th and 13th of August. This year, 2020, the shower starts on the 17th of July and lasts until the 24th of August. The meteor shower reaches its peak on the 12th and before dawn on the 13th of August. During the peak, you might see up to 60 meteors per hour! Keep in mind that we will have almost half-moon that rises around 0.30 AM. So, the evenings of the peak days are best this year.
A few interesting facts
- the dust trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle is about 30 kilometers wide
- the size of most meteors is between sand grain and a pebble
- a meteor falls towards us at a speed of around 60 kilometers per second
- the ‘shooting stars’ are about 80 to 110 kilometers above you
- the number of meteors depends on the closeness of comet to earth. In the early 20th century, there were only about 4 meteors per hour, and in 1993 when Comet Swift-Tuttle was close to earth, we could see between 200 and 500 meteors per hour!
Meteor showers and Wadi Rum
The best place to see the spectacle of a meteor shower is where you have a clear sky vision. Further, weather conditions are essential as clouds block your view. Additionally, you must have as little artificial light around as possible.
Wadi Rum is known to be one of the dark places on our planet. And, luckily, the chance of cloudy conditions is minimal. Add to that the balmy summer nights, and you have the ideal place to go to for this meteor spectacle.
If you decide to come to Wadi Rum to see the Perseid meteor shower and join our tour, we offer you two options for your overnight stay. You can choose comfort and sleep in our camp. We only sparsely illuminate the campsite, and, of course, we switch off the lights after dinnertime to make the stargazing even better. Alternatively, you can choose to sleep in our ‘cave’. It is back to basics (no bathroom, etc.). But in return, you can go to the nearby plateau for the best views of the meteor shower.
Required equipment for watching the Perseid meteor shower
Well, that is easy—no need to bring binoculars or a telescope. These only limit the part of the sky that you can observe, and therefore limit the number of meteors you will see. We recommend putting your mobile phone and other sources of light away for the obvious reasons that it reduces your night vision. We will point you the direction to watch.
All you need to do is lay down on a mattress (we provide one for you) and start watching in Perseus’s direction. After about 30 minutes, your eyes are adjusted to the dark. Afterward, you start to see the stars and meteors best. Our eyes are drawn to moving objects automatically. So, just pick a point in the sky and watch and wait. Of course, watching a meteor shower is even more fun with family or friends around doing the same.
If you also got excited to see the Perseid meteor shower, you (and your family or friends) are most welcome to join us! The best days are the 12th and 13th of August. If the weekend works better for you, the 14th and 15th of August, of course, are excellent to choose too.
Have a look at our tours section to check out our tours. And in the overnight section, you find more information about our camp and ‘cave‘.
See you in Wadi Rum!