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Old 21-07-12, 17:08   #1
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Default Rest of Summer Full of Asteroids, Shooting Stars

Rest of Summer Full of Asteroids, Shooting Stars.
By Samantha Kramer, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer

Get ready, stargazers. The night sky is about to get active.

It kicks off this weekend with an asteroid almost a half-mile long - about the size of a city block - flying by Earth. The asteroid 2002 AM31 will come into 3.2 million miles of our planet on Sunday.

AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Hunter Outten said there's no danger of the asteroid hitting Earth because it is 13.7 lunars from the Earth (one lunar is equal to the distance from the Earth to the moon, or 238,900 miles).

Those without a telescope can view a live webcast of the asteroid on the sky-watching website Slooh Space Camera. The Sunday webcasts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT.

Another asteroid, named 2012 OQ, is expected to zip by Tuesday, July 24, and will be five times closer than this weekend's asteroid, Outten said. Because it is much smaller, about 200 m or the size of four Olympic-sized swimming pools, viewers will also need a telescope for the asteroid.

[i]Annual meteor showers Aquarids and Perseids will come into view late July and early August. (Photo courtesy of NASA)[i]

Outten said asteroids frequently enter our solar system and can be monitored by scientists, but the proximity of the two passing by this week is not as common.

"This next pair are probably the closest ones in a while," he said.

Another weekend to add to the sightseeing calendar is July 28 and 29, as the annual Delta Aquarids meteor showers will come into their peak view.

Each year in August, Earth passes into the debris trail left behind by comets. Some of the debris is up to 1,000 years old.

"They are an annual thing because every time this year, the Earth's orbit is in the same place," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Mark Paquette. "[These meteors] are the debris from the Marsden and Kracht sun-grazing comets, and that is what we see as shooting stars."

Paquette said the Southern Hemisphere will have a better view of the Aquarids, but the annual Perseids shower on August 12 is another opportunity for Northern Hemisphere viewers. The Perseids, which are debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet, can produce 60 shooting stars per hour.

Unfortunately, their peak view will be during a full moon, so the annual shooting stars won't be seen as well as they have in past years, Paquette said.

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