Spectators watch meteor shower in southern town of Mitzpe Ramon.
Spectators watch meteor shower in southern town of Mitzpe Ramon. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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Two small meteor showers are expected in Israel’s skies on Wednesday night, kicking off the country’s meteor season.

Wednesday night’s showers are known as the Capricornids and the Aquarids, named after the constellations Capricorn and Aquarius. The next celestial event is expected on the night between August 12-13, when the large shower known as Perseid (named after the hero Perseus) crosses our skies.

According to Dr. Igal Patel, chairman of the Israeli Astronomical Association, an estimated 10 meteors an hour will be seen in Wednesday's showers.

As opposed to meteors that land on the ground - which are large and contain metal compounds, such as the one that caused major damage in Russia last February - summer meteors are tiny bodies, weighing less than a gram, and moving at speeds of dozens of kilometers per second toward the planet. They break once they hit Earth’s atmosphere and pose no danger, Patel said.

The tiny bodies creating the meteor showers originate in comets - small celestial bodies in an elliptical orbit around the sun. According to Patel, “meteors are in fact dust thrown off by the comets on their orbit around the sun. The dust spreads across the course the comet takes during its solar orbit.”

Each summer, earth’s orbit intersects with that of the meteors, which is when meteor season is declared officially open.

People will be able to see the meteor showers from everywhere in Israel, but according to Patel, “we recommend watching from outside the city where there is less light in the sky.”

Wednesday's showers will move from southeast to southwest. The Perseid shower in mid-August is expected to be one of the most spectacular ever seen in Israel, with up to 150 meteors an hour.