ChipLakeNEWS InfoSheet

This InfoSheet is number: 0062

Summary: Maine is a great place to look for meteors on a dark clear night and the most prolific time to see meteors is in mid-August of every year when the earth passes through the Perseid Meteor area. Here's some info that may be helpful.

If you have a clear night on the dates noted below, sooth your soul by finding a comfortable place to watch the natural "fireworks" of meteor showers. Bundle up in the winter and allow your eyes to get accustomed to the dark and sort of just stare off into the night.

The showers are named for the constellation from which the meteors appear to radiate (although they really don't come from the stars themselves). The largest showers (Perseids and Leonids) appear over several nights although are strongest on the peak date. On a clear peak night it is said that one can see "hundreds per hour" (during the Perseid showers).

An individual meteor may be so short and dim that if you are not looking at the place in the sky that it appears, you might miss it or only see it periferrally (did I spell that right?). Bright meteors will last several seconds and traverse most of the night sky, even seeming to leave a trail of sparks. Small meteors (aka, meteorites, machts nichts) are said to be the size of a grain of sand up to pea size and large ones, the size of a baseball. Bigger ones might even reach the earth's surface.

Other night sights in addition to stars and planets might be planes and satellites. 1) Satellites don't blink and planes often do... 2) satellites are only white...being reflected light...and planes will show white, green and red lights depending on their relative position and 3) satellites are extremely fast compared to a plane at what appears to be the same distance (of course satellites are much farther up than planes)...meteors are so fast as to be almost instantaneous. Most satellites travel west to east although some are in polar orbits. I've seen several travelling north to south...and most often in the early part of the night.

The order of data below is: Name of the Meteor Shower (Radiant) - Name of the Constellation - Peak Date

Quadranitids - Bootes - January 4th
Lyrids - Lyra - April 21st
Perseids - Perseus - August 12th
Orionids - Orion - October 21st
South Taurids - Taurus - November 3rd
Leonids - Leo - November 16th
Geminids - Gemini - December 13th
Ursids - Ursa Minor - December 22nd

The meteor showers are constant, year round occurrances in one specific area of the earth's orbit...but of course the earth is there only for a day. That's why we can see them on specific nights year after year...cause we're there when they are...or more accurately, we're where they always are only on one (or two or three) night of the year.

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