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  • Can we see the Meteor Shower in D.C. Metro?

    August 12, 2009 by  
    Filed under Morning Show

    Like most meteor showers, the hours between midnight and daybreak are typically the best time to watch, because that’s when the side of Earth you are on is rotating into the direction of Earth’s travels through space, so meteors are “scooped up” by the atmosphere at higher rates, much like a car’s windshield ends the lives of more bugs than does the rear bumper.

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    Month in Space: Cosmic fireworks
    See a stellar blast, a solar eclipse, liftoffs and other outer-space highlights from July.
    Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. But many of the fainter meteors will simply not be visible due to moonlight, and rates will go down even more for those in urban areas. More likely a typical observer under reasonably dark skies might hope to see a meteor every couple minutes when the bursts come, and fewer during lulls.
    When to watch
    The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn Wednesday. Forecasters say the best stretch could come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET (1-2 a.m. PT), which would be after daybreak in Europe. Some Perseids might be visible late Tuesday night, and Wednesday night into Thursday morning could prove worthwhile, too.
    Meteor forecasting is still in its infancy, however, so the best bet for anyone truly hungry to spot shooting stars is to get in as much observing time as possible from around 11 p.m. Tuesday night until dawn Wednesday, and if you miss that show, try the same time frame Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.
    Meteors should be visible in the pre-dawn hours, weather permitting, all around the Northern Hemisphere.
    “Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on Aug. 12,” said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour.”
    Viewing tips
    The best location is far from city and suburban lights. Ideally, find a structure, mountain or tree to block the moon.  Then scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they’ll all point to the constellation Perseus.
    People in locations where any chill might occur should dress warmer than they think necessary to allow for prolonged viewing.
    Seasoned skywatchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars.

    I have visions of standing outside with my 3 year old daughter, Emily, showing her the Perseid Meteor Shower tonight…teaching her about the beautiful universe that God has created for us.  But, we live among the bright lights of the big Fairfax County…to really see it we’d have to hike up the mountain and camp overnight in the Shenandoah Valley.  A listener, Juliana, called and told us that Sky Meadows State park is a popular place for stargazers.

    Here’s some info from an acticle on MSN  about how to see it:

    Like most meteor showers, the hours between midnight and daybreak are typically the best time to watch, because that’s when the side of Earth you are on is rotating into the direction of Earth’s travels through space, so meteors are “scooped up” by the atmosphere at higher rates, much like a car’s windshield ends the lives of more bugs than does the rear bumper.

    See a stellar blast, a solar eclipse, liftoffs and other outer-space highlights from July.

    Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. But many of the fainter meteors will simply not be visible due to moonlight, and rates will go down even more for those in urban areas. More likely a typical observer under reasonably dark skies might hope to see a meteor every couple minutes when the bursts come, and fewer during lulls.

    When to watch

    The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn Wednesday. Forecasters say the best stretch could come between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET (1-2 a.m. PT), which would be after daybreak in Europe. Some Perseids might be visible late Tuesday night, and Wednesday night into Thursday morning could prove worthwhile, too.

    Meteor forecasting is still in its infancy, however, so the best bet for anyone truly hungry to spot shooting stars is to get in as much observing time as possible from around 11 p.m. Tuesday night until dawn Wednesday, and if you miss that show, try the same time frame Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

    Meteors should be visible in the pre-dawn hours, weather permitting, all around the Northern Hemisphere.

    “Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on Aug. 12,” said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour.”

    Viewing tips

    The best location is far from city and suburban lights. Ideally, find a structure, mountain or tree to block the moon.  Then scan as much of the sky as possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you trace their paths backward, they’ll all point to the constellation Perseus.

    People in locations where any chill might occur should dress warmer than they think necessary to allow for prolonged viewing.

    Seasoned skywatchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars.

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