Highlights of the 2011 Perseid meteor shower (PHOTOS)
While D.C. may not have had the flaming, sky-brightening barrage that many places in New England saw, the Perseids did not leave without throwing a couple eye catchers our way.
In Herndon on Friday, one fireball hunter spotted an incandescent pen stroke zipping across the dark around 10:15 p.m. "The moon was full and bright and there's quite a bit of light pollution in our area," he said, "but the progress and trail of the meteor was easily visible for more than 2 seconds in spite of it." The day before near 11 p.m., another observer in Laurel spotted what "looked like one of those fireworks remains that falls to the ground, except it had a green glowing ball and a trail that I recall was gold colored."
This was not the best year for the Perseids. A full moon and perhaps the location of the debris trail of comet Swift-Tuttle (aka the "Doomsday Comet") knocked down the number of observable meteors. At the peak on Aug. 13, people were reporting an average of 60 and 70 shooting stars per hour to the International Meteor Organization, well below the expected 100-and-above count. Countries that received the most furious fire displays included Slovakia, at 169 meteors per hour; the Czech Republic, at 279 per hour; and Serbia, at 318 per hour.
Spaceweather has posted several interesting photos from the public, including this COMING RIGHT ATCHA! buckshot blast of meteors in the Czech Republic, this long-exposure of a Perseid in Missouri,and this lonesome space rock self-immolating over Monte Avaro, Italy. But in terms of sheer awesomeness, Ron Garan wins the prize. On Saturday, floating about 220 miles above the Earth, the astronaut caught a Perseid zooming by the window of the International Space Station. Here's a higher-res version of his photo, and just for fun, here's another Garan treasure showing what lightning looks like from space.