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How to Watch a Meteor Shower

Meteor showers are nature’s own light show and, unlike eclipses, happen several times a year all over the world. You can never know for sure how many meteorites will be visible on any given night, but you can increase your chances of seeing some.

1. Consult an astronomy field guide, an astronomy hotline or a local weather forecast for the dates of upcoming meteor showers. Major showers include the Perseids around August 11 and the Leonids around November 17.

2. Drive to the darkest place possible as far away from street lights and city lights as possible.

3. Place a blanket on the ground.

4. Lie on your back and look up, slowly scanning the sky. Don’t use binoculars or a telescope; the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, and using binoculars just limits your field of vision.

5. Look for streaks of light in the sky, typically lasting two seconds or less.

If the moon is going to be more than half-full that night, try to plan your trip to watch the meteor shower before the moon rises or after it sets. The light from the moon will interfere with your ability to see the meteors.

Typically, meteor showers are best seen after midnight because of the earth’s rotation.

The most meteorites you can reasonably hope to see during a meteor shower are a few per minute, though you’ll usually see fewer. Even under the best conditions, watching a meteor shower requires patience.

Don’t forget to bundle up or even take a sleeping bag if the weather is going to be at all chilly. You’ll lose body heat very quickly lying quietly on the ground.

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