Space Talk: The Perseid Meteor Shower Will Peak on Sunday & Monday
Okay folks, time to fire up the lawn chairs, bring out the sleeping bags or blankets, perk up a good pot of coffee, get out your bionoculars, cameras and other goodies for a night of backyard camping! The Perseid Meteors are heading our way for a night of Mother Nature's idea of what fireworks should be!
True Confession Time: I have always been a closet astronomer. It all started growing up in rural Illinois, where I was fortunate enough to live in an area where there were virtually no city lights. Seeing shooting stars in the backyard was the norm. The summer I got to go to visit the Mt. Kitt Observatory and the Palomar Observatory to visit and see the telescopes, I was hooked. So bear with me as I give you a laymen's backyard perspective on star watching.
Should you decided to join the quiet masses on this night of star gazing and meteor counting, here's a quick list of things you should remember and may want to have at hand.
- Lawn Chair, recliner or chase type to be able to lie back and see the sky. You do not want to be on the ground because of dampness, bugs and other visitors.
- Pillow and sleeping bag or blanket. Call them creature comforts.
- Beverage of your choice. I prefer coffee.
- A Radio to keep you company,
- Low level lighting in order to be able to find your way around. If in back yard-- kill all the lights you can to get the best view.
- Batteries or power packs.
- Bug Repellent. Especially with the threat of the West Nile Virus, this is very important this year. Don't wear perfumes or scented items, it only attacts the mosquitoes.
- Cell phone and first aid kit in case you're away from home for obvious reason.
- Camera, binoculars and other optical toys. Remember your tripod and film or batteries.
To get a little background, visit these sites:
Space.com's Viewer's Guide: Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Sunday & Monday. This set of articles gives a good basic perspective on the Meteor shower and how to find them in the sky.
Watching, Counting and Photographing the Perseids
NASA Science: Horseflies and Meteors information and maps
NASA Science: Summer Meteor Shower information, maps and other siting goodies.
Spaceweather's Photo Tips and Tricks. Excellent article with other resource links.
If you have a notebook computer and you want to drag along-- there are excellent trial versions of some spotting software. Remember these may be large downloads so start early on getting them installed. Here's some suggestions:
Starry Night Offers a free trial version. Look for the TRIAL DOWNLOAD in the left column
Voyager III Offers a free trial version by Carina Software is excellent. Mac and Win versions. These are 12 MB downloads.
If you have any ideas or software that should be added. Email me or hit the COMMENTS link at the TOP of the page!
If you get any great pictures-- email them to me and we will put them up with credit and a link.