Meteor showers, just like the four seasons, happen annually from the start to the end of the year. It is an occurrence that we would be able to observe a number of meteors (also known as shooting stars) streaking across the night sky from one source. For the upcoming meteor showers, the source of meteors will be coming from constellation Perseus, hence the name Perseid meteor showers.
I had my first exposure to astronomy many, many, many years ago at Changi Beach, where I had an overnight barbecue outing with my family. The stretch of Changi beach where we had our barbecue was not that greatly lit and I remember vividly that the skies were very clear and I could see lots of stars, especially the milky way. I was so fascinated to see that many stars for the very first time.
I sat close to the shoreline listening to soothing sound of the waves and feeling the cool breeze blowing against my face. I sat there for as long as I could remember, admiring the night sky blanketed with stars. As I was looking at the sky, suddenly, I saw a long white light streaking across the sky and that lasted less than 2 seconds. I had just realised that I had witnessed my first ever shooting star. From then on, I got so excited and began to read up more on astronomy as the years go by.
For the upcoming Perseid meteor showers, it is predicted to happen in mid-August with the peak happening on the early mornings (before dawn) of 11-13 August. Astronomers predicted that for this year’s Perseid, during the peak, we would be able to witness about 90 plus meteors per hour. Of course, this is subjected to the weather, cloud and light conditions.
Singapore, as we all know, is badly polluted with lights. This light pollution, which turned off many astronomy enthusiasts, obscured many of the less bright stars; forcing many of them to go to neighbouring Malaysia for stargazing and astrophotography. However, not all hope’s lost. I am going to share with you how to spot the Perseus constellation as well as the best location to view the showers which is free from the majority of the light pollution.
Photo source: Stellarium
Perseus will rise at approximately 0210 hours (GMT +8), from the direction of North-East. The source of the meteor showers, is circled in green. There wouldn’t be any moon at that time as the moon has already set in the West. The sky would be free from moonlight hence, the possibility of seeing more stars.
Photo source: Google Maps
As for the location I would recommend the stretch of beach along Changi Coast Road (Between SAF and Changi Ferry Terminal). The reasons for the chosen location :
- The stretch of beach is naturally facing North-East.
- It is facing the sea so, minimal light pollution, obstructions from natural and man-made objects.
- Some parts of the beach are away from the street lamps which make the place suitable for stargazing.
For your safety, I would strongly advise stargazers to go in groups as the stretch of beach is really dark.
Photo source: Stellarium
There is more! For those planning to observe Perseid meteor showers, just above the constellation Perseus, there is this is this constellation known as Andromeda. That is where the Andromeda galaxy lies and the galaxy is the closest galaxy from our solar system (approximately 2 million light years away). The Andromeda galaxy, which is disk-shaped, is visible through a naked eye. It may be visible but it may not be clear. The location of Andromeda galaxy is circled in green. Binoculars or a telescope is recommended to be able to see the galaxy clearly.
It is about 3 weeks to go now and I do look forward to hearing your experiences in this upcoming meteor showers. Stay tuned to my next post!
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