Late Wednesday night, and into Thursday morning, skygazers on the East Coast will get a second peek at the Perseids, a meteor shower that's been tracked by astronomers for centuries. And if tonight's anything like last night, much of the action won't be up in the night sky. Instead, it'll be on the Web, where thousands of enthusiasts gather to trade pictures, videos, and stories. After all, we live in the age of Twitter. And what would a meteor shower be without a few good tweets?
Yesterday, for instance, the Newbury Astronomical Society in England staged a "Twitter Meteorwatch" party, where folks were invited to discuss – and re-tweet – Perseid information from around the globe. (Sample tweets included the humorous aside – "It is estimated that some 30,000 metric tons of space dust falls to earth each year - most of it collects under my sofa..." – and the scientific observation: "Have just seen a bright Iridium satelite flare up to about 0 magnitude.") The party kicks off again tonight @NewburyAS.
For non-tweeters, the BBC is running a pretty rad gallery of user-generated photographs, as is spaceweather.com. The latter may be more appealing to serious astronomers – the caption information on spaceweather.com is more detailed, and the quality of the observations is generally greater. If you're out for a video take on the Perseids, one solid bet is camstreams.com, which will film live tonight from Sheffield, England. And as always, keep an eye on YouTube.com, where much of the action will likely unspool.
Where will you watch the meteor shower? Talk to us here, or on Twitter.