After reading this blog, you will know more about the Perseid meteor shower and why it is worth witnessing this spectacular phenomenon in Wadi Rum.
Wadi Rum is one of those places on our planet that showcases the grandeur and magnificence of nature. It is humbling to realize how small and insignificant humans are in the natural world and its elements. As the sun sets, the night sky unveils an awe-inspiring and breathtaking sight with countless twinkling stars and solar systems. It showcases the infinity of the natural world that exists beyond our planet. This sight makes it even more evident how small and insignificant we are.
If you gaze at the night sky frequently, you will notice that it is never the same due to various factors such as the size of the moon and the time of the year. However, nature has more to offer, such as the spectacle display of a meteor shower.
In our previous blog post titled ‘5 reasons to watch shooting stars in Wadi Rum,’ we highlighted why Wadi Rum is an ideal location for watching meteor showers. In this post, we delve deeper into what meteor showers are, and we provide a list of the most famous meteor showers in the northern hemisphere, including the times to witness them. Further, we provide details about the upcoming Perseid meteor shower and why Wadi Rum is the perfect place to view it.
General information about meteor showers
Did you know that meteor showers, commonly known as ‘shooting stars’, are caused by asteroids and comets? These celestial bodies are made up of rocks and metals (for asteroids) or loosely consolidated rocks, icy materials, and dust (for comets). When an asteroid or comet gets close to the sun, it heats up, causing some disintegration which leaves behind a trail of debris in space. Sometimes, our planet passes through these trails, and some debris enters our atmosphere at extremely high speeds. The debris heats up due to the resistance of our atmosphere, causing the air to glow brightly as the debris passes through it. So, what you see in the sky is not the debris burning but the glowing hot air created by the meteor passing through the atmosphere. It is a reminder of the immense beauty and wonder of the universe we live in.
If you reside in a region with abundant artificial lighting, you may rarely witness meteor showers. However, it may astonish you to learn that they are not as unique as you might think. Approximately 45 meteor showers take place each year. Some of the most famous ones are:
The Perseid meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower originates from the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is 26 kilometers in diameter and completes an orbit around the sun every 133 years. The comet was named after its discoverers, Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle, who spotted it in 1862. The last time Comet Swift-Tuttle was visible was in 1992, and it is predicted to be visible again in 2126. Unfortunately, we will not be able to witness that event. However, we can still appreciate the breathtaking display of the annual meteor shower that it provides.
When observing a meteor shower, it may appear as though the meteors are randomly scattered across the sky. However, upon closer examination, you will notice that they all seem to enter the Earth’s atmosphere from the same location. This location is referred to as the radiant, and meteor showers are named after the constellation that coincides with the radiant. For instance, the Perseid meteor shower is named after the Perseus constellation, which is it’s radiant. If you want to learn more about the Perseus constellation, you can visit in-the-sky.org.
The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event that takes place between July and August, with its highest activity between the 11th and 13th of August. In 2023, the shower will begin on July 17th and end on August 24th. The peak of the meteor shower will occur on the night of the 12th and before dawn on 13 August, during which you may witness up to 100 meteors per hour! It’s worth noting that the moon rises around 3 AM, so the best time to see shooting stars is during the evening and very early morning.
A few interesting facts about meteors and Comet Swift-Tuttle
Meteor showers and Wadi Rum
To witness a meteor shower spectacle, it is necessary to have a clear sky and favorable weather conditions, as clouds can obstruct your view. It is also crucial to minimize artificial light in the area to enhance visibility.
Wadi Rum is known for being one of the dark places on Earth. Fortunately, the likelihood of cloudy weather is low, and the warm summer nights make it the perfect destination to witness this meteor phenomenon.
Are you considering visiting Wadi Rum to witness the stunning Perseid meteor shower? Our packages offer two overnight options for your stay. One is our comfortable campsite, which is illuminated sparingly, and the lights are switched off after dinner to enhance your stargazing experience. The other option is our ‘cave’, which provides a back-to-basics experience without amenities like a bathroom. However, in exchange for roughing it, you can walk to the nearby plateau for optimal meteor shower viewing.
Required equipment for watching the Perseid meteor shower
Watching meteors is easy, and you don’t need binoculars or a telescope. These restrict your viewing area and limit the number of meteors you see. To make the most of your viewing experience, we suggest keeping your mobile phone and other light sources away to preserve your night vision. We will guide you in the direction to look.
To watch the stars and meteors, simply lie down and look toward the direction of Perseus. It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, after which you can see the starry night sky and meteors more clearly. Our eyes tend to be drawn toward moving objects, so choose a point in the sky and observe patiently.
Of course, it is more enjoyable to share the exciting experience of watching shooting stars with family or friends. So, if you, your family, or friends are excited to watch the Perseid meteor shower in Wadi Rum, we welcome you to join us! The best days to view the shower are the 11th, 12th, and 13th of August. However, you can also witness this amazing show during the days leading up to the peak and the first week or so after.
See you in Wadi Rum!