The bright moonlight dampened the spirits of the around 200 stargazers who had gathered at the two vantage points of Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar on Saturday to witness the annual ‘Perseids Shower’ that lights up the night sky.
Perseids are bits of the comet Swift-Tuttle and often create the most amazing meteor shower of the year.
The comet is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by the earth and has a nucleus width of about 26 km. It last passed near Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. But it will not be forgotten because the earth passes through the dust and debris it leaves behind every year, creating the annual perseid meteor shower.
According to Omani astronomer and member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences Ali Amur Al Shaibani, “The shower actually began on July 17 and will continue till August 24. Tonight between 9 pm and the early hours of tomorrow are when the best of the showers can be seen. But with this bright moon now, visibility will be less spectacular.”
The Perseids usually have a flare rate of about 80-100 per hour at 60 km per second speed, but this year flare rates are reduced by half owing to the bright moon, he added.
The Perseids are called so because the point from which they appear to hail (called the radiant) lies in the constellation Perseus. The name is derived in part from the Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus
Jebel Shams and Jebel Akhdar are the best places to watch the shower because of the low rate of light pollution and clear sky-view without any urban light pollution.