Tips for Watching Meteor Showers


Last month we watched the Orionids, a meteor shower that happens during autumn of each year.  We took advantage of special software apps that helped us estimate where to look to see the largest number of meteors each evening.  And we compiled a list of those we saw that was given to the state university’s historical list of meteor observations.  A meteor, as you know, is created by a particle burning up as it falls through our planet’s atmosphere at high speed.  Most burn up well before they reach the Earth’s surface, though there have been occasions when one has hit and devastated the area around its place of impact.  Many meteor showers are associated with comets; the Orionids are said to be part of the tail of Halley’s Comet.

Watching a meteor shower requires basic preparation.  Wear comfortable clothing.  The best time to observe meteors is after midnight.  Even summer nights may be chilly at that time, so it’s a good idea to bring a jacket or sweater.  You also need a chaise with a pillow, so you can lay back and look up without straining.  Binoculars are useful, but not essential; indeed, you may miss seeing some because they limit your field of vision.  On the other hand, it’s a good idea to have some insect protection, since you’ll be outdoors in the open.  I like to bring along a light blanket just in case the sweater or jacket isn’t sufficient.  A large container of your favorite thirst quenching liquid is recommended.  One also should wear comfortable athletic shoes like those you can get from Journeys; they are perfect for walking rough roads or long distances outdoors.  And you can get them for a discount of up to $60 off when you purchase them with a Groupon coupon.

The best place to watch a meteor shower is a location with a minimum of light pollution from surrounding cities; avoid major centers like shopping malls, stadiums and outdoor arenas.  You definitely want to stay far from busy airports.  Some people like locations in the mountains, but beware of animals.  Another option is a public park with a lake that doesn’t have artificial light around after dark.  A seacoast can be ideal.  Just set up your chair well back from the high tide line, lay on your blanket and relax and watch the stars fall.  And don’t forget to make a wish!

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