Why there are only a few precious hours in 2021 when you can reliably see “shooting stars” – .

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Why there are only a few precious hours in 2021 when you can reliably see “shooting stars” – .


Have you ever seen a “shooting star?” If not, you will no doubt have read articles begging you to get out and experience a meteor shower.

There is no such thing as a “meteor shower”.

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Meteorites don’t behave like that. “Falling stars” are caused by the collision of Earth’s atmosphere with clumps of dust left along its orbital path by a passing comet. They look like streaks and last about a second, depending on the “shower” in question.

“Shooting stars” are sudden events that can occur anywhere in the night sky, but they are sporadic. They rarely occur together. For example, you might see one out of the corner of your eye and, five minutes later, see another in a completely different part of the sky. Many of them will be missed. There are never two or three – or more – “rain” at the same time, as the composite photographs suggest.

Also, when you read that a “meteor shower” like the Lyrids, Orionids or Geminids might have “up to 150 shooting stars per hour”, it really means that it might be possible to see as many. (the so-called zenithal rate or ZHR) in perfect condition. This scenario is, in practice, impossible to achieve – you should observe the entire night sky continuously, for many hours on either side of the absolute “peak” of activity, and in a very dark sky.

However, the most important factor that determines what you’re likely to see – and many meteor shower promoters don’t point out – is the effect of the moon and moonlight.

If there is a first quarter of the Moon or something brighter, especially a Full Moon, in the sky during the peak meteor shower night (s), you may forget to see anything other than the brighter of the “shooting stars”. And they are very rare.

If the Moon is large and bright, then, indeed, you will be observing under a heavily light-polluted night sky, even if you have gone to a dark-sky destination.

So, which meteor showers to choose in 2021? There will be three meteor showers in 2021 which will occur under near ideal conditions.

The bad news?

The first (and by far the best) isn’t until August 2021.

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The good news?

These are the Perseids, arguably the most famous and easily observed meteor shower in the northern hemisphere … largely because it occurs in the middle of summer, when it’s easiest to be. out at night.

The three best meteor showers in 2021, these will be best seen after midnight, with the exception of the Draconids, which can be seen just after dark.

1. Perseid meteor shower 2021

When: Thursday / Friday August 12/13, 2021

Moon phase: 23% illuminated crescent moon

ZHR: 110

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2. Draconid Meteor Shower 2021

When: Friday / Saturday 8/9 October 2021

Moon phase: 10% illuminated crescent moon

ZHR: 10

3. Meteor shower from South Tauride 2021

When: Thursday / Friday 4/5 November 2021

Moon phase: 0.1% illuminated crescent moon

ZHR: 10

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I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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