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How to Watch a Meteor Shower

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Published on May 23, 2011

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When a comet orbits the sun, it sheds a stream of debris. Meteor showers are caused when the Earth travels through the stream left behind by the comets, and the debris burns up in the atmosphere. Here's how to watch one.

Step 1: Pack your car
Pack your car with chairs, blankets, bug spray, food, drinks, and a flashlight. Bring along everything you need to be comfortable while watching the meteor shower.

Tip
Use a red-filtered flashlight that won't affect your night vision.

Step 2: Drive away from the lights
Drive away from the lights of the city. Meteor showers are named for the constellation they appear to be coming from so you'll want to drive in the direction of the constellation.

Step 3: Find a secluded spot
Find a secluded spot where it is dark enough and no car headlights can interfere with watching the meteor shower. State and city parks are a good place for viewing meteors.

Tip
Adjust your eyes to the dark by trying to spot each star of the Little Dipper.

Step 4: Wait until an hour before sunrise
Wait until an hour or so before the sun rises to see the meteor shower. The morning side of the Earth gets more meteors than the evening side.

Step 5: Learn the major meteor showers
Learn when the major meteor showers occur. The Quadrantids are January 3rd, the Lyrids are April 21st, the Eta Aquarids are May 4th, the Delta Aquarids are July 28th, the Perseids are August 12th, the Orionids are November 3rd to the 13th, the Leonids are November 17th, the Geminids are December 13th, and the Ursids are December 21st.

Step 6: Watch meteor showers any night
Know that you can see meteors any night of the year, not just during the major meteor showers. The best month for spotting meteors is November. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

Did You Know?
The most brilliant meteor shower ever recorded was the Leonids meteor shower on November 12th and 13th in 1833, where at one point over 8,000 meteors fell over Boston in 15 minutes.

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