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The Quantrantid meteor shower is expect to peak tomorrow night, and with a new moon it is expected that the shower will be quite a nice, if short lived shower. About 80-100 meteors per hour are expected. The Quandtrantids are not as well known as other showers but have been getting some media buzz of late, so we figured this would be a good time to re-iterate our advice for how to view meteor showers.

1) Get to dark skies. While we have argued in the past that astronomy viewing in the city isn’t as bad as some people lament, in this case you really do need dark skies to view the meteor shower

2) Pick your dark sky site carefully. In viewing showers I personally have had a couple of cases where what I thought was a good location had problems. One was on the side of the road on a dark California highway. It made for great viewing, but the nice people who drove by kept stopping (and ruining our night vision with their lights) to see if we were OK. Nice of them, but it messed up our eye’s adaptation. In another case a location we thought was good turned out to be where a lot of the town crazies went to drink. Not good.

3) Don’t bother with a telescope, unless you plan to use it on other objects. A telescope doesn’t have enough field of view to watch the section of sky that a meteor shower will appear in.  Bring a blanket or chair to rest on if you plan to be there a while.

4) Be patient. Your eyes need time to adapt to the darkness and even though the promises of 80-100 meteors per hour are made you won’t see all of them. Some are too dim, some will happen out of the field of view of your eyes.

5) Dress warmly! Even in summer it can get cool in the evening.

6) Above all, make sure to have fun. Meteor shower viewing is for fun, it should not be a chore.

www.spectrum-scientifics.com

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