17 November 2006

Mark Your Meteors

NPR brought music to my ears this morning -- news of an exciting natural event that some of our gentle readers will want to mark in their Filofaxes. The Leonid Meteor Shower is on! In North America, where this writer is, the visible dates of the shower are Friday, November 17 and Saturday, November 18. And, according to the radio, this year's show will be a spectacular. Instead of the usual 20-30 shooting stars per hour, we'll be able to see 200-300! Apparently, this boon is due to the earth's passing through a particularly heavy band of debris from an ancient comet.

I found this page from StarDate.org, which has all the information you need to mark your Filofax for meteor viewing for the year. (This link is to the 2006 metor calendar, which is almost over. Presumably, StarDate will produce a similar page for the 2007 meteors in due time.) This page also has some handy tips on meteor viewing (Pack comfortable chairs, bug spray, food and drinks, blankets, plus a red-filtered flashlight for reading maps and charts without ruining your night vision. If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors).

Space.com offers thorough and technical information, but I find the site hard to navigate. So no guarantees, but here's a currently working link to the site's Leonid page.

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