Natural Sightings #503 - Perseids Meteor Shower (1).jpg

This summer's annual Perseid meteor shower as seen from Bear Valley Springs.

Toshimi Kristof took this photo at her home in Bear Valley Springs during this summer's annual Perseid meteor shower. Toshimi says she took about 200 images from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., and didn't get many good shots — meteors are notoriously difficult to photograph.

However, she did get this shot of a bright meteor streaking across the sky above the Tehachapi Mountains. The Perseids result from a stream of debris trailing the comet known as Swift-Tuttle, which travels on a 133-year orbit.

The Perseids are one of the most popular and best observed of the annual meteor showers for two reasons: there are often lots of meteors to be seen, and also because it peaks every year between Aug. 9 and 14, during the balmy evenings of high summer when people in the Northern Hemisphere are most likely to be outside to see it.

Winter meteor showers, which occur when the nights can be bitterly cold and uninviting, tend to be less well-attended.

The Perseids were first named in 1835 by Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quetelet, who recognized that they appeared to originate near the constellation of Perseus.

The late, lamented American folksinger and songwriter John Denver referenced a memorable experience he had witnessing a Perseid meteor shower while on a family camping trip near Aspen, Colo.: in his chart-topping song "Rocky Mountain High," Denver writes "But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I've seen it raining fire in the sky. . . " That was Denver's description of a particularly active Perseid meteor shower seen in the dark mountain skies.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: editorial@tehachapinews.com.