An almost full moon this past weekend caused a lot of problems for those hoping to get a great light show from the Orionid meteor shower. As CM Monitor reported on Oct. 21, 2013, the fragments of Haley's Comet were not easily seen due to a bright moon, but there will be a number of other opportunities throughout the rest of the year.
The Leonid meteor shower is just three short weeks away, but there are thoughts that the moon could once again cause havoc there. Should that be the case, then star gazers will have their best luck coming in mid-December for the Geminid meteor shower.
Harvard lecturer Sean Andrews states that a number of meteor showers are still to come in 2013, but the Comet ISON's possible approach could make for the greatest show. There is still no guarantee that it will happen, but it will be a magnificent show if it does.
“No one really knows when this will happen or if we’ll get to see it,” Andrews says. “It’s very close in the sky to the sun so you can’t see it until it gets further away.”
Every single night of the year, star gazers are able to see different things if they just go out and look and know what they're searching for. Here were some of the tips given last year for the Geminid meteor shower:
- Hope for black skies with the new moon so the brighter meteors shine thoroughly.
- Find a spot to watch in the country and away from city lights.
- Sit outside for at least an hour of viewing time so that your eyes can adjust to the dark and see better.
- The Geminid radiant point climbs over the eastern horizon around 7:00 p.m. local time for mid-northern latitudes.
- Look for the constellation known as Gemini or the "twins." Also, try to focus on noticeably bright stars as they will help make spotting the meteors easier.
- The five visible planets may be seen on these nights if the sky is just right. So, if you're watching long and hard enough, keep your eyes open for Mars and Jupiter in the evening sky, Saturn around 4:00 a.m., Venus just before dawn, and Mercury about a half-hour later.
- Watch for hours if you can. The longer you sit out there, the better chance you have of catching more meteors.
- Watch the shower with some friends so that eyes can be on different parts of the skies.
- No special equipment is necessary if you have a dark sky, plenty of time, and some warm clothes. Don't let yourself freeze and shiver while trying to get a good view.
- Relax while you're out there. Don't get jumpy or antsy. Take your time while looking for the meteors and look all over the place to see what you might catch.