The full Moon is bright. So are Perseid fireballs. On Aug. 7th, a NASA meteor camera at the Kitt Peak National Observatory caught this Perseid meteoroid disintegrating over Arizona, easily visible in glaring moonlight.

According to images triangulated from multiple cameras, the meteoroid hit Earth’s atmosphere traveling 61 km/s (136,000 mph) and disintegrated 82 km above the ground. This is, interestingly, very close to the altitude where summertime wisps of water vapor crystalize around specks of meteor smoke to form noctilucent clouds.

In recent nights, a growing number of these fireballs have been seen streaking over the USA. NASA cameras counted more than 30 so far this week. This is a sign that our planet is moving deeper into a stream of debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak during the nights of Aug. 11-13 with perhaps dozens of meteors per hour streaking through the moonlight.


David Aragorn

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