For Immediate Release
August 3, 2018
Contact: Trinity Foreman
Don’t Miss the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association Meteor Shower Party
Nantucket, MA – On August 12 from 10:00pm-12:00am, the Maria Mitchell Association will host a free viewing party at Surfside Beach for the Perseid meteor shower. Weather permitting, there will be astronomers onsite to answer questions and explain more about the meteor shower, which will be one of the brighter meteor showers of the year. Up to sixty meteors per hour are expected to be visible.
Meteors are the flashes of light that are visible when meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere. A meteoroid is a space rock, ranging in size from a small grain of sand to several feet across. Travelling upwards of 45,000 miles per hour, when a meteoroid hits the Earth’s atmosphere, it experiences an extremely large drag, which slows the meteoroid down, usually burning it up completely, and in the process, producing a bright steak of light that is commonly referred to as a “shooting star.” Annual meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris left over from a comet and comes into contact with many small rocks, which then enter Earth’s atmosphere. These rocks are generally the size of pebbles and burn up as they hurdle towards Earth, making them nothing to worry about, as they are unlikely to ever reach Earth’s surface.
Meteor showers are named for the constellation in the sky from which the meteors appear to be radiating. The meteor shower taking place on August 12 is named for the constellation Perseus, which lies in the Northern sky and is home to the famous star Algol. The constellation was first recorded by a Greek astronomer in the 2nd century and is named after the mythical Greek hero, Perseus, who is probably best known for slaying Medusa and saving Andromeda from a sea monster. The star Andromeda is located near the constellation of Perseus.
The night of August 12 should be ideal for star gazing providing the weather cooperates. The moon, which will be a small crescent, will provide very little additional light, allowing for dark skies ̶ ideal for meteor watching.
The Maria Mitchell Association is a private non-profit organization. Founded in 1902, the MMA works to preserve the legacy of Nantucket native astronomer, naturalist, librarian, and educator, Maria Mitchell. The Maria Mitchell Association operates two observatories, a natural science museum, an aquarium, a newly opened research center, and preserves the historic birthplace of Maria Mitchell. A wide variety of science and history-related programming is offered throughout the year for people of all ages. This year celebrates Mitchell’s 200th birthday with special lectures, events, classes, and exhibits all year-long, culminating in the Maria Mitchell Women in Science Symposium in October 2018 in Boston.