Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Take A Shower This Year...

...I mean...take a chance to see a meteor shower this year.

I have loved astronomy ever since I could remember. My science projects in school were always geared toward planetary studies or reading whole astronomy sections at the school library. (I serious! I did!) So naturally, when I was teen I dragged my parents to the desert to view the 'Perseid' meteor shower that occurs every year at around August 13th. I remember that we weren't alone in doing so because there were others just like us who came out to check out the "shooting stars".

They occur every year when the earth orbits through huge streams of dust that were left by passing comets. When that happens, our planet experiences a meteor shower. The meteors themselves are just small pieces of interplanetary debris, that vaporize as they hurl into Earth's upper atmosphere.

Here's a quick view chart of the meteor showers that occur every year:
(*Note: Bright moonlight will interfere with Perseids this year.)

So if you decide to go, here are a few tips:

1. Go to a dark location far from the major city lights. You won't see much if you don't.

2. Check the calendar when there's a full moon. Moonlight will 'drown' out the shower with its own brilliance. (Best to go during a "New Moon"/no moon)

3. Take a jacket and/or blankets. Chances are you are heading out to the desert where the temperatures are cold at night.

4. Get comfortable. Bring lawn chairs or lay out on someones pick-up truck.

5. Bring your patience. Even if you don't get to see many, it could be a cool chance to hang out with some buddies and just 'chill'.

I still love astronomy as I did as a kid. But unfortunately, all I get to admire are the sunspots on the sun or the maria on the moon or Jupiter, Venus or Sirius in Orion. Only the brightest objects in the sky are usually visible in our light polluted sky.

Do any of us stop to smell the flowers these days?
Do any of us stop to look "up"?


pableezy said...

i like this post. even though i enjoy stuff like this, i don't really ever take initiative to do it.

Keith (Qoheleth) said...

I've done this before a couple of times - drive out north of Palmdale and Lancaster at 2:00 AM to see the Perseids. Want to organize a caravan to do it this year? I'll do it if we can get a group.

You're right about the moon - August 13 is going to be just after full.

If there's a closer place away from the city lights, I'm game -

trazomfreak said...

That would be great!

I just remembered where I "dragged" my parents to....or I should have said, "...my parents took me to...", I think the best place they knew to take me was Cabazon.

But then again, that was over 10 years ago. There are more lights (development) out there especially because of the Casino Morongo. (The real reason for going to Cabazon?)

And being that it was a "school night" we didn't go at 2am. There might have been less light pollution. Too bad. We still got to view the shower right under those cool dinosaurs!

But it's still darker than being in the city. Does anybody know of anywhere else?

urBenLA said...

great article. A few years back (I guess it was 6 years by now), I took a group of kids up to Yosemite and our guides took up camping high on one of the mountains. Even after living in Rural NY, I had never seen so many stars or so clearly, and since it was the second week of August, the one evening we were perched high above the Yosemite valley, we counted 80+ meteors before we fell alseep. It was a very cool memory and it made me want to go back and revisit that site.

trazomfreak said...

Oh, man Ben...it must have been so awesome! So beautiful. I'm sure you'll never forget it.

Just the other day, we were visiting friends in North Pasadena and I stopped dead in my tracks and looked up. And I always remember why I fell in love with the heavens to begin with.

Alex had to urge me into the truck to get home...I could have stayed there all night!

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