Astronomy

The best Locations to Observe Meteor Showers



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Meteor showers are caused by small fragments of cosmic debris left out by the orbits of comets.  This debris is encountered when the Earth´s orbit passes through that orbit, producing intense streams of light which very quickly disintegrate when they enter the Earth´s atmosphere. Intense meteor showers are commonly known as, meteor outbursts or meteor storms. Meteor showers are usually named after the constellations from which they appear to radiate, for instance, the Perseid meteor shower seems to radiate from the constellation of Perseus. The following indicates some of the best locations to observe meteor showers.

The brightest meteors can be observed from almost anywhere, including a light polluted city; however, it is preferable to find a place that is as far away from city lights, especially those dark places where you can admire better the night sky without being interrupted by the glow of any light. Drive a few miles away, to a distant place, from where you live. Possibly, find an observing spot, on the opposite side of a mountain which can block the glow coming from the city lights.

If you decide to stay in the city, try to turn off every light around your house or place yourself in a reclining chair outside in the garden without any lights turned on. You can also block the glow of lights from neighborhood houses by placing non-transparent blankets around you which may act as protective barriers against light leaks. Don´t forget to leave enough space which can allow you to watch the point (radiant) from where the meteors appear to fall.

State or city parks are other options to observe meteors. If you opt for this, try to find a spot surrounded by trees, but which provides an ample view towards the meteor point of radiation. Assure yourself that this spot of view won´t be perturbed by the glow of car headlights. It is important to know that a full Moon or a first quarter Moon can cause poor visualization, as it outshines the objects around it, restricting a normal view.

Once you´ve found a suitable viewing location, lie back in a comfortable chair and try to support your head with a pillow which can allow you to look straight to the point of radiation. After about one minute if you can spot the little Dipper, your eyes have become well adapted to the dark, which will allowing you to see plenty of meteors.  It is important to take with you a comfortable chair, plus other implements, such as a red-filtered flashlight which can permit you to read maps and charts without interfering with your night vision.

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