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| Astronomy Essentials | Space on Aug 10, 2013
You might see a lot or you might not see many, but if you stay in the house, you won’t see any.

Your goal: to observe a meteor shower. You want to see as many meteors as possible. You want to see the sky rain meteors like hailstones at an apocalyptic rate. You want exploding fireballs, peals of meteoric thunder, celestial mayhem. And it could happen, too, because you read an article online about this meteor shower.

And so here you are. You have your sleeping bag, the requisite thermos of coffee. At any moment, the sky should open up and rain down meteors.

The minutes tick by. Half an hour. An hour. Still you wait. Nothing happens. It’s cold. You’re sleepy. You should be in bed. You don’t even like coffee. Finally, you toss aside the sleeping bag and trudge back inside the house grumbling. Again, you read the date of the peak: “before dawn on August 12 and 13.” Then it hits you. That was yesterday morning. Which brings us to the first rule of meteor shower observing: be sure you know which days the shower will peak. Follow the links below to learn the top 10 tips for watching meteors!

Be sure you know which days the shower will peak.

Find out the time of the shower’s peak in your time zone.

Watch on the nights around the peak, too.

Don’t take the notion of a radiant point too seriously.

Find out the shower’s expected rate, or number of meteors per hour.

You must be aware of the phase of the moon.

Dress warmly.

Bring along that thermos of hot coffee or tea.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair.

Relax and enjoy the night sky.

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