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August 11, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Gaze skyward to check out a meteor shower

THREE astronomical events will be visible in Shanghai between Friday and Monday as the city will likely have clear skies.

The Perseus meteor shower will dance across the sky from 2am to 3pm on Friday.

On Friday evening, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury will all be visible at the same time in the west sky along with the moon.

On Monday, the stars Altair and Vega will meet. Young lovers here believe that it's a gift from heaven for Chinese Valentine's Day, which is on Monday this year.

The Perseus meteor shower will peak at a rate of 60 to 100 meteors every hour. Experts said the best time to watch will be around 7:30am.

People can watch the meteor shower with their own eyes under clear weather conditions, Tang Haiming, an official with the Sheshan Astronomical Observatory, said yesterday. The present weather forecast calls for a clear sky with few clouds on Friday.

The Perseus meteor shower is one of the three biggest meteor showers in the northern hemisphere, and usually occurs in August.

The observatory said the Huitengxile Grassland in Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region is the best spot for watching the meteor shower on the Chinese mainland. Some local astronomy fans left yesterday for the grassland.

Meanwhile, astronomers said that Mercury is seldom seen in summer in Shanghai, thus it's rather rare that the four planets, along with Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, appear at one time in the same sky.

According to a Chinese myth, Altair was a young farmer while Vega was a fairy.

The two lovers were parted by the Milky Way and could only meet each other once a year. The story is the origin of Chinese Valentine's Day.

Su Pei, a college student, said he will try to watch all three wonders with his girlfriend. "We believe this will be the most romantic Chinese Valentine's Day for us," he said.


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