Have you seen meteor rain?
November 23, 2006 11:07pm CST
i haven't.Anyone of you have seen it??
28 Nov 06
We all at one time or another have seen a shooting star zip through the heavens. If you are interested in increasing the odds of seeing this phenomena, there are some important factors you should consider: On an annual scale, from the northern hemisphere, more random (sporadic) meteor activity will occur during the second half of the year. From the southern hemisphere, almost the opposite is true with the first half being more productive. There are actually two peaks visible from the southern hemisphere, one in January and the other in early July. It was once thought that the angle of the ecliptic during different seasons played a role in this variation. Studies have revealed that there is simply more activity to be seen from weak and unrecognized radiants, producing the sporadic meteors, during these times of year from each hemisphere. On a daily scale, dusk is the worst time to view meteor activity. The reason for this is that at this time, you are viewing the area of the sky from which the Earth is receding. Therefore any meteor must catch up to the Earth in order to be seen. This is often compared to a vehicle driving through rain or snow. One will see more raindrops or snowflakes hitting the front windshield compared to the rear window. At this time you are looking through the rear window. As the night progresses the numbers of meteors visible will increase. As the Earth rotates toward the apex (the point in the sky where the Earth appears to be traveling toward), meteors striking the Earth from perpendicular angles and those striking the Earth from head-on will become visible. The best time to see meteor activity would be the period just before the start of morning twilight, when most of the meteors will be striking the Earth from a "head-on" position, much like looking through the front windshield of a vehicle during rain or snow. There is even a more important factor when trying to see meteor activity; is there an active major meteor shower visible tonight? If there is then you have the opportunity of seeing up to ten times the normal numbers of meteors visible. There are only nine meteor showers than are considered major. They are the Quadrantids (Jan 3-4), Lyrids (Apr 22), Eta Aquarids (May 2-10), Delta Aquarids (Jul 26-30), Perseids (Aug 5-19), Orionids (Oct 18-26), Leonids (Nov 18), Geminids (Dec 10-16), and the Ursids (Dec 22). These major showers vary in intensity but all are best seen during the early morning hours. Viewing the morning sky during these periods will offer much more activity as these showers will combine with the normal sporadic activity to produce a good show. The absolute ten best mornings for viewing meteor activity are: (in order of strength) Dec 14, Aug 12, Dec 13, Aug 11, Aug 13, Jan 3, Dec 12, Oct 22, Aug 10, and Dec 11. Since the Earth encounters these showers every year at the same time, these dates will usually remain the same year after year. Finally, the sky must be as dark as possible for you to see the most activity. If the moon is above the horizon, it will certainly brighten the sky. There are years when a bright moon will ruin most of the dates above. There is nothing you can do about this coincidence except put up with the moonlight or wait until the next favorable date. December 14 and August 12 (the peak mornings of the Geminids and Perseids) will still produce more activity with moonlight than all the others without. They should not be missed regardless of the conditions. There are other factors to help you see more activity that are more within your control. The location of your watch is important. Since city lights will obscure the fainter meteors, it would help immensely to watch from darker rural skies. Viewing comfort is also desirable. You should use a reclining lounge chair so that you are comfortable. It is also a good idea to nap before a watch and to be well rested when attempting to observe. You certainly will not see much meteor activity through closed eyelids! If you consider these factors when planning your observing schedule, you will surely see enough meteors to fulfill all your wishes!