Have you ever wished upon a shooting star? Did you know you are actually wishing on a meteor?
What is a meteor?
There are grains of dust and small rocks traveling through outer space. These are called meteoroids. Sometimes, some of this dust and rock enters the Earth’s atmosphere and catch fire.
Meteors are grains of dust and small rocks traveling through space that enter the earth’s atmosphere. Upon entering the atmosphere, the dust or rocks burn up and we view them from earth as shooting stars, or meteors.
Meteors usually burn up before they hit the ground because of their small size. If they are large enough to not burn up in flight and hit the earth’s surface, they are then called meteorites.
How and when to view meteors?
Though meteors can be seen at almost any time, they are most easily viewed during a known meteor shower. Check out this meteor shower calendar to decide when is a good time.
Meteor showers are fairly predictable as far as knowing when one will occur, but astronomers can’t always predict how many meteors will actually be visible in any given meteor shower. To increase your odds of seeing meteors, here are some tips to help make your viewing a success.
Find the perfect viewing area
Meteors are most easily seen in a dark sky away from street lights. A rural area is best whether it is a backyard, the side of a country road, or an open field. Parks with wide open spaces are also great places to watch meteor showers. Just make sure that they allow visitors in the wee hours when meteors are at their peak.
Prepare for the weather
Meteor showers often peak in the hours before dawn. It can be chilly at that time even during the spring and summer. Dress warm and pack a blanket just in case. We always take a thermos of hot chocolate, too. Keeps us warm and awake.
The proper seating
You will want to be able to scan the sky to look for meteors. This is most comfortably done from a reclining lawn chair or a blanket on the ground. The blankets work well in the warmer weather. Consider using the reclining chair, a picnic table, or truck bed when it is colder to keep you off the cold ground.
Now you are all ready! Check your calendar and make plans to view the next meteor shower near you!