Offaly telescope to capture spectacular meteor shower
Offaly's I-LOFAR telescope, which is part of Europe's largest telescope network, is set to capture the stunning Perseid Meteor Shower this weekend.
Researchers for the I-LOFAR telescope, located at Birr Castle, have been preparing for this weekend, particularly Saturday night, August 12, when the Perseid Meteor Shower is due to be be most visible over Ireland. Skygazers could expect to see as many as ten meteors per minute on Saturday night in the right conditions.
What is a Meteor Shower?
Meteors are pieces of rock that have broken away from asteroids or comets due to collisions or extreme heating caused by their tremendous velocities. A 'shooting star' occurs when those rocks enter the earth's atmosphere and drag across the sky.
Scientist at the I-LOFAR in Offaly are going to attempt to observe the Perseid Shower through two different methods.
The first is called “passive radar” and involves using radio antennae to detect reflections of military/aeronautical radar off the plasma trail of the meteor. I-LOFAR will be trying to observe the reflection from a French radar used to monitor satellite orbits.
The second method of meteor detection is by measuring direct emission from plasma in tail below 60 MHz.
I-LOFAR has also teamed up with scientists at DIAS or Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies who are planning on observing the event from Dunsink Observatory using two optical cameras.
The I-LOFAR is hoping to determine the speed and number of meteors, as well as where they originated.
You can catch a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor Shower at home if you get to a location as far away from light pollution as possible.
For more information and live updates on progress of the research in Offaly, keep an eye on the @I_LOFAR Twitter feed.
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