Έρχεται η πιο εντυπωσιακή θερινή βροχή από «πεφταστέρια»

Peftasteria1_Aftodioikisi
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Πιστές στο καλοκαιρινό ραντεβού τους, οι διάττοντες Περσείδες, η πιο εντυπωσιακή θερινή βροχή από «πεφταστέρια», θα κορυφωθούν και φέτος στην καρδιά του καλοκαιριού, συγκεκριμένα το βράδυ της Δευτέρας 12 Αυγούστου προς τα χαράματα της Τρίτης, στο νυχτερινό ουρανό της χώρας μας και γενικότερα του βορείου ημισφαιρίου.

Όσοι έχουν μείνει ξύπνιοι και εφόσον ο ουρανός δεν έχει σύννεφα, θα έχουν την ευκαιρία να δουν το φαινόμενο. Φέτος όμως ακολουθεί πανσέληνος στις 15 Αυγούστου, με αποτέλεσμα η λάμψη από το μεγάλο φεγγάρι, που θα είναι αρκετά φωτεινό, να εμποδίσει σε ένα βαθμό την παρατήρηση των μετεώρων, έτσι θα γίνουν ορατά μόνο τα πιο φωτεινά από αυτά.

Οι Περσείδες είναι εντυπωσιακές βροχές διαττόντων, καθώς τα «πεφταστέρια» τους είναι γρήγορα και φωτεινά, διαθέτοντας συνήθως μακριές πύρινες «ουρές». Σύμφωνα με τη NASA, το ρεκόρ τους ήταν το 1993, όταν είχαν καταγραφεί περίπου 300 μετέωρα την ώρα.

Εμφανίζονται σε όλα σχεδόν τα σημεία του ουρανού και όχι σε ένα συγκεκριμένο, μολονότι φαίνεται να προέρχονται κυρίως από τα βόρεια-βορειοανατολικά, από την περιοχή του αστερισμού του Περσέα, από όπου πήραν και το όνομά τους.

Τα μετέωρα αρχίζουν να πέφτουν αραιά από τις 17 Ιουλίου περίπου, πυκνώνουν σταδιακά και διαρκούν έως τις 24 Αυγούστου. Όσο πιο κοντά στην ώρα που χαράζει, τόσο πιθανότερο είναι να δει κανείς με γυμνά μάτια τα συγκεκριμένα «πεφταστέρια» οπουδήποτε στον ουρανό.

Οι Περσείδες -που καταγράφηκαν για πρώτη φορά από Κινέζους αστρονόμους το 36 μ.Χ. – προκαλούνται από τα σωματίδια σκόνης που αφήνει πίσω της η τεράστια ουρά, μήκους δεκάδων εκατομμυρίων χιλιομέτρων, του κομήτη 109Ρ/Σουίφτ-Τατλ, που διασταυρώνεται με την τροχιά της Γης. Ο κομήτης, ο οποίος ανακαλύφθηκε το 1862 από τους αστρονόμους Λιούις Σουίφτ και Χόρας Τατλ (των οποίων φέρει το όνομα), διαθέτει ένα τεράστιο πυρήνα διαμέτρου περίπου 26 χιλιομέτρων, πολύ μεγαλύτερο από τον αστεροειδή με διάμετρο δέκα χιλιομέτρων, ο οποίος έπεσε στη Γη πριν από 66 εκατ. χρόνια και εξαφάνισε τους δεινόσαυρους.

Ο εν λόγω κομήτης είναι το μεγαλύτερο γνωστό ουράνιο σώμα που περνάει από τη Γη κατά τακτά χρονικά διαστήματα και χρειάζεται περίπου 133 χρόνια για να πραγματοποιήσει μια πλήρη περιφορά γύρω από τον Ήλιο. Σήμερα βρίσκεται σε απόσταση περίπου πέντε δισεκατομμυρίων χιλιομέτρων και το επόμενο κοντινό πέρασμα του από τη Γη αναμένεται το 2126, ενώ δεν φαίνεται να αποτελεί απειλή για τον πλανήτη μας στο προβλέψιμο μέλλον.

Τα μετέωρα του, που συνήθως έχουν βάρος μικρότερο από ένα γραμμάριο, εισέρχονται στη γήινη ατμόσφαιρα με ταχύτητα σχεδόν 60 χλμ. το δευτερόλεπτο και αναφλέγονται σε ύψος περίπου 100 χλμ., οπότε και αρχίζουν να γίνονται ορατά από τους παρατηρητές. Καθώς πλησιάζουν προς το έδαφος με μεγάλη ταχύτητα, διαλύονται από την τριβή και την υπερθέρμανση (1.650 βαθμοί Κελσίου), αφήνοντας πίσω τους φωτεινά ίχνη.

Το «κλειδί», σύμφωνα με τους ειδικούς, για να δει κανείς μια βροχή διαττόντων, είναι -εκτός από την υπομονή- το οπτικό πεδίο του να περιλαμβάνει ένα όσο γίνεται μεγαλύτερο τμήμα σκοτεινού ουρανού. Οι διάττοντες είναι επίσης δυνατό -με λίγη τύχη- να φωτογραφηθούν με φωτογραφική μηχανή που διαθέτει ευρυγώνιο φακό και θα κάνει διαδοχικές προγραμματισμένες λήψεις μεγάλης διάρκειας.

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