NATIONAL METEOR WATCH DAY
National Meteor Watch Day is observed every year on June 30th. Also known as National Meteor Day, on a cloudless night, people turn their eyes to the heavens in hopes of spotting the glow of a falling star.
Daily there are millions of meteors that occur in the Earth’s atmosphere.
When space debris, such as pieces of rock, enter the earth’s atmosphere the friction causes the surrounding air to become scorching hot. This “shooting star” streaking through the sky surrounded by flaming hot air is a meteor.
The majority of the meteoroids that cause meteors are only the size of a pebble.
Meteors sometimes occur in showers. It’s an excellent time to plan for a meteor-watching party. Whether we catch a few stray falling stars or witness an entire meteor shower, this day calls for an evening with friends and family under the stars. Identify the constellations while waiting to make a wish or two. Sounds like a romantic night, as well.
In the Northern Hemisphere, one of the most active meteor showers is the Perseids. Named after the constellation Perseus where the majority of the activity takes place, particles released by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle cause the meteors to shower down onto the earth. One of the most impressive meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere, the Perseids put on dazzling displays. Some years, on a clear night with a new moon, sky watchers view more than one meteor per minute! The Perseids are active from mid-July to late August.
Meteors are usually observed at night and are visible when they are about 34 to 70 miles above the Earth, and they often disintegrated at about 31 to 51 miles above. Their glow time is usually about a second.
Despite a large number of meteors we see, a small percent of meteoroids hit the Earth’s atmosphere and then skip back into space.
The chemical composition and the speed of the meteoroid will cause different hues to the light. Possible colors and elements producing them include:
- Orange/yellow (sodium)
- Yellow (iron)
- Blue/green (copper)
- Purple (potassium)
- Red (silicate)
A list of meteor shower dates as well as a guide to successful watching can be found on the EarthSky website.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL METEOR WATCHING DAY
Plan your night. Gather some friends together, a blanket and find a place far from the city lights on a cloudless night. Use #NationalMeteorWatchDay to share on social media.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL METEOR WATCHING DAY
Within our research, we were unable to identify the creator of National Meteor Watching Day.
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