Stella Solaris and Stella Maris
Dear Fellow Traveler,
We take pride in welcoming you on our Perseid Meteor Shower sailings aboard the Stella Solaris and Stella Maris,
This extraordinary voyage will take us to the natural wonders and exotic historical sights around Italy and the Mediterranean Rivieras.
It is an odyssey of exploration and adventure designed to coincide with the grandeur of a celestial spectacle the 1993 Perseid Meteor Shower. All reports point to southern Europe as having ringside seats for this celestial event.
Nature's version of fireworks takes place each August 11-13, a celestial display known as the Perseids. It is the richest, most reliable and best observed of any of the meteor showers. At their peak, the Perseids usually produce up to 60 meteors an hour for viewers in completely dark locations. The radiant point - the point of the sky where the meteors seem to originate - is located near the constellation of Perseus, and, therefore, the display is known as the Perseids.
Meteors are small particles of matter traveling through space, the debris left behind by disintegrating comets. These tiny bits of material produce flickering flames of light as they enter Earth's atmosphere and die fiery deaths, the victim of friction. The Perseid's meteor stream is orbiting through space in the same path as its parent comet, Swift-Tuttle, named for the two 19th century American astronomers who discovered it.
Each August the Earth intersects this orbit and the particles then penetrate the atmosphere in large numbers. As reliable as the Perseids are, the shower becomes even better when the parent comet reaches the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth.
The first reliably recorded observation of Comet Swift-Tuttle came in 1862, in the midst of the United States' Civil War. Its return was heralded by spectacular showers of "shooting stars" observed by soldiers on both sides for several nights. Skywatchers reported that "sparks of fire" flashed 400 to 500 times an hour. Some were bright and colorful; others appeared as dramatic fireballs, Comet Swift-Tuttle, brighter than the North Star, with a most impressive 30-degree long tail, was making its appearance.
It was thought that Comet Swift-Tuttle traveled in a highly elliptical orbit that lasted 120 years. Its return was eagerly awaited in 1982, but to no avail. We have since learned that its orbit lasts 131 years. The meteor-producing comet was finally spotted on its way back in September 1992, and its return means we should be due for a rare, spectacular and intense burst of meteors this August.
The long awaited return of Comet Swift-Tuttle may kindle the Perseids into an unusually rich performance and has generated an unusual interest in observing this year's shower. To view this celestial event, however, dark moonless skies away from city lights and pollution are a must. Star-gazers on the decks of ships in the Mediterranean Sea should have the best observing conditions in the world.
Noted astronomer and our shipboard lecturer Joseph Rao has been following the Perseids from land, air and sea for three decades. He reports that the stage may now be set for what he calls "an unforgettable sky show for favorably situated sky watchers on the night of August 11-12 "
Again, we welcome you aboard to share with us the excitement of unraveling some of the mysteries of ancient civilizations, and the celestial drama of greeting the Perseids from the unequalled vantage point of a ship at sea.
photo credit: Marcy Pedas Sigler
Science at Sea Enrichment Lecture Staff
Perseid Meteor Shower Cruises - Aug 5-15, 1993 - Stella Solaris - Stella Maris
|M. Scott Carpenter|
Scott Carpenter, the second American to orbit the Earth, will provide a unique perspective on our planet from his viewpoint as one of the first U.S. space explorers and as an aquanaut with the Sealab project on the ocean's floor.
|Dr. Ronald A. Parise |
Ron Parise dreamed of riding in space as a child. That dream came true twice: in 1990 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia and in 1995 aboard Endeavour, when he served as a payload specialist for the astronomy-based Astro missions.
|George T. Keene |
George Keene, retired Eastman Kodak scientist, has received international acclaim for his photography of celestial phenomena.
|Joseph M. Rao|
Joseph M. Rao, a noted meteorologist and astronomer who has followed the Perseids for three decades, is the senior meteorologist for Compu-Weather Inc. and the source of the astronomical and meteorological calculations for the Farmer's Almanac.
|Dionysios P. Simopoulos |
Dionysios Simopoulos, the Director of the Eugenides Planetarium in Athens, Greece will bring the night skies alive with the stories - and the science - behind the stars. He will guide us through the marvels, mysteries, myths, and legends of the Aegean skies.
|Dr. Warren M. Young |
Warren M. Young, Professor of Astronomy at Youngstown State University, is a specialist in solar system astronomy and has sailed both hemispheres to point out the wonders of the skies to thousands of cruise passengers. His enthusiasm to communicate the wonders of the universe and his expertise combine to make everyone take notice of what's happening in the sky.
Go to Biographies of Enrichment Staff
Published articles relating to the Perseid Meteor Shower cruise