How to view a Meteor Shower

Meteors are also known by many people as “shooting of falling stars”. They originate when the Earth passes near or through the leftover debris from a comet or asteroid’s orbit and those debris particles hit Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. When many of these meteors seem to originate from the same point, this is called a meteor shower.

Meteor showers can be spectacular to watch, and luckily for us all they are reasonably predictable. 

Most meteors are fairly faint, so best viewing is away from lights. Places to head include a beach, bushland areas, or up a mountain. But if you do live in a town or city – you can spot the brighter meteors – just try and block out extra light in your own back yard.

So, find a dark spot and make yourself comfortable and stay warm. Grab a hot drink and either lay a blanket on the ground or lay back banana lounge or on the trampoline which is much more comfortable! Oh and add some insect repellent.

It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. While you can just stand and look at the sky, it is actually much better for your neck to sit or even lie down. I prefer laying down – as I can see more of the sky that way – and also see satellites and other cool stuff – but then I am in love with the night sky!

Usually, the best time to look for meteors is in the hour before dawn, so it is better to get up early than stay up late, however, you can try anytime between midnight to dawn.

Most names of meteor showers come from their radiant point, that is, the place in the sky where they appear to originate from.

For the Lyrids, it is the constellation Lyra. However, looking at the constellation is not the best idea because, as said, the meteors fly off in all directions from that point.

Lots of apps will show you where to find Lyra and what time it rises in your area – now let’s hope for clear weather!

Donna the Astronomer

I am a keen astronomer lucky enough to live and work in Coonabarabran the Astronomy Capital of Australia! I am a ‘Drover’s Brat’ and discoverer of a couple of comets and asteroids. I operate Milroy Observatory and can show you how to best integrate dark sky experiences into your tourism, farm stay or AirBnB business.

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