There is nothing in this world that captures the imagination the same way as a meteor. It’s an experience that is embedded in our very psyche. We all know to wish upon a falling star. Think of how often you see a painting of a star with a swooping tail – it’s theme that is found in advertising, on video games, in movies, or anyplace you want to show the beauty of a star with the energy of motion.
Seeing the streak of a meteor rapidly flashing across the sky is not the same as what is usually displayed in popular culture. A meteor can be such a quick flash that you may not be sure you really saw it, or it can be a fireball that is unmistakable and beautiful. It is a sight that is best seen live.
I’ve looked forward to the 12th and 13th of August for years – the Perseid meteor shower peaks on those days. Being able to predict a high number of meteors over a short period of time gives us a big advantage of having a successful night observing meteors. My local weather tends to be nice with warm nights, and the shower is big enough you have extra chances in case one the first night is cloudy.
I want to make an invitation to everyone world wide to join me and thousands of others for Meteorwatch. The event will officially run from the 11th through the 14th of August. The objective of Meteorwatch is to give you the best chance possible to see a meteor in person. If your area is clouded over, we will share our photographs and observations from around the world.
Observing meteors is very simple to do – find the darkest place you can find and be prepared to look up for a while. No extra equipment is required, you don’t have to leave the city – although it will certainly help if you can. If you are in a very dark area it is likely you’ll see a meteor at least every half hour or so and much more if you’re experienced or up later at night. If you’ve never seen a meteor before, we will share plenty of tips to help you discover one live. If you’re an experienced observer, please share your experiences, observations and photos. You can begin as soon as it gets dark, but for best results you’ll want to be out late – I’ve had best success between 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning. With Meteorwatch being a world wide event, there will always be someone online to help out.
Best of all, Meteorwatch is a fun event where you’ll find hundreds of people having a great time together in person and online.
Mark Zaugg is an amateur astronomer and enthusiast who has introduced dozens of people to the excitement of seeing a meteor in person. You can find him at http://twitter.com/Zarquil