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Jupiter’s Gravity To Make Perseids Meteor Shower Better On Aug. 11

First Posted: Aug 10, 2016 06:30 AM EDT
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Jupiter's gravity would cause Perseids particles to concentrate in front of the Earth, making this year's Perseids meteor shower better than average. The Perseids meteor shower, the most widely observed and dependable annual meteor display, is expected to peak during the overnight hours of Thursday, Aug. 11 until the morning of Friday, Aug. 12.

NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said that this year's Perseids meteor shower is in outburst as the comet's path is crowded. This condition happened because of the influence of Jupiter's gravity. Since the comet has an orbit, it can move past Jupiter due to the planet's gravitational assist, Space reported.

The orbit of Perseids intersect the Earth more or less directly and will pass along other planets on its way towards the sun. However, the dross of Comet Swift-Tuttle passes well above Jupiter, and cannot come any closer than about 160 million miles at 11.8-Earth-year intervals due to the planet's gravity.

In some occasions, Jupiter's powerful gravitational field can slightly perturb the comet particles just enough to nudge them about 930,000 miles closer to Earth. As a result, there is a noticeably brighter and stronger Perseid meteor display that produces more than the usual complement of meteors, Inverse reported.

When Jupiter inflicts an influence on the Perseid orbit, the meteor numbers tend to increase up to above normal levels. This has happened in 1921, 1945, 1968, 1980 and most recently in 2004. It turned out that Jupiter recently passed closest to the orbit of Comet Swift Tuttle in Nov. 2014 but an additional 22 months should pass for the meteoroid zone to arrive in the vicinity of Earth.

A meteor expert, Mikhail Maslov of Russia, forecasts that there will be higher than normal Perseid meteor rates. He said that in 2016, Jupiter will cause a significant increase of up to 160 to 180 additional meteors per hour.

Jupiter's gravitation will shift the perturbed part of the Perseid stream closer to the Earth's orbit according to Maslov. This would mean that a heightened Perseid activity should be expected.

See Now: NASA's Juno Spacecraft's Rendezvous With Jupiter's Mammoth Cyclone

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