A celestial treat awaits astronomers next week when the Earth's upper atmosphere will be lashed by meteoroids travelling at dizzying speeds of over 2.17 lakh kms per hour, a scientist said in Mumbai on Saturday.
The meteoroids, known as Perseid Fireballs, belong to the debris of a comet, 109P/Swift-Tuttle and will be visible August 12-13 night, said scientist Bharat Adur, the head of Akash Ganga Centre for Astronomy (AGCA), in Mumbai.
"Initially, the meteor rates may remain low next week as Earth penetrates the sparse outskirts of the debris stream. Later, this could skyrocket to around 100 meteors per hour by the second week of August," Adur told IANS.
The maximum Perseid activity will be witnessed on the night of August 12-13, appearing as fireballs as bright as planets Jupiter or Venus.
He said that every year, from early to mid-August, the Perseid meteor showers the Earth which passes through a cloud of dust sputtered off as the comet approaches the Sun.
"Perseid are rich in fireballs because of the size of the parent comet and its an annual celestial activity which delights astronomers, both professionals and amateurs," Adur said.
The Swift-Tuttle Comet has a huge nuclear - around 26 km in diameter, as compared to most other comets which are much smaller with nuclei barely a few kms across.
As a result, Adur said that Swift-Tuttle Comet produces a large number of meteoroids, many of which are big enough to produce fireballs.
Given clear skies, Adur said it would be an educational experience for people and students to crane the skies next Monday night, towards the northern hemisphere, around 60 degrees above the horizon.
He said that people can also tune in their ordinary FM radio between 97-101 mghz frequencies and hear the loud high frequency whistling sounds emanating from the Perseid meteoroids as they lash the upper atmosphere, burn and trickle down as ash.