Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meteor Shower August 12, 2009

The next meteor shower is the Perseids on August 12, 2009. The shower peaks early afternoon on the 12th, so the morning of the 12th (midnight to dawn) and late evening are the best times to watch from the U.S.

Here are some tips on viewing meteor showers

An increase in the number of meteors at a particular time of year is called a meteor shower. Comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet's orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, you will see a meteor shower. Depending on where Earth and the stream meet, meteors appear to fall from a particular place in the sky, maybe within the neighborhood of a constellation.

Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall. For instance, The Perseid meteor shower is named because meteors appear to fall from a point in the constellation Perseus.

Shooting stars are name that people have used for many years to describe meteors. Streaks of light across the night sky caused by small bits of interplanetary rock and debris called meteoroids crashing and burning high in Earth's upper atmosphere. Traveling at thousands of miles an hour. Almost all are destroyed, the rare few that survive and hit the ground are known as meteorites.When a meteor appears, it seems to shoot across the sky, and its small size and intense brightness might make you think it is a star.

If you live near a city, drive away from the city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. Find a dark spot where oncoming lights will not ruin your night vision. When you are at your observing spot, position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with the stars and sky filling your field of view. Meteors will get your attention as they streak by.

If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you should see plenty of meteors.
What should I pack for meteor watching?

If you can bring red-filtered flashlight for reading star maps and charts without ruining your night vision. Binoculars are not necessary. Its better with just your eyes.