Meteor season is upon us
July 25, 2009
Time to bust out your telescope, or at least a lawn chair and a blanket.
The peaks of several summer meteor showers are just around the corner, and Lake Tahoe provides a seemingly inexhaustible variety of viewing spots to watch cosmic castoffs burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and light up the night sky.
Although the timing of the moon cycle this year might hamper viewing by lightening the pitch darkness that provides the best conditions for watching meteor showers, this summer should still provide ample opportunity to see the wish-inspiring occurrences.
“The good news is we’ve got some meteor showers coming up, the bad news is that they’re not going to be totally awesome,” said Dan Ruby, associate director of the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno.
The best time to see meteors is between 1 and 4 a.m., but anytime between midnight and sunrise will work, Ruby said.
August is typically the best summer month for meteor watching, and the Perseids shower is likely to be the most active period of the season, said Paul Guttmann, an adjunct professor of astronomy at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. But the whole summer season is fair game, Guttmann added.
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“If you lay on your back on any summer night, you’ll see meteors,” Guttmann said.
But for the best show, Ruby and Guttmann said to keep an eye out for these three summer showers, named after the constellations where the shooting starts usually seem to originate from:
When it peaks: July 29 and 30
How many meteors you can expect: about 15 per hour
When it peaks: July 28 and 29
How many meteors you can expect: about 20 per hour
When it peaks: Aug. 12 and 13
How many meteors you can expect: 60 per hour