The latest show that Quad-Citians anticipate won’t cost a thing to see … that is, if you’re in a dark enough place and you’re watching the night sky.
Wayland Bauer, the president of the Popular Astronomy Club, talked Sunday about the upcoming Perseids meteor shower that should be visible at night in the Quad-Cities now through Thursday. "Tuesday into Wednesday is a good viewing time," he said.
Bauer, accompanied by other members of the club, spoke at the German American Heritage Center, Davenport, where 30 people learned about club activities, German optics, telescopes and how to watch a meteor shower.
“You don’t want binoculars. You don’t want telescopes. They give you a narrow view of the sky," he said.
The Perseids meteor shower, he said, occurs every August. The Perseids are tiny particles of dust and debris from the tail of a comet that Earth encounters every year as it orbits the sun. When the particles collide with the earth’s atmosphere, they burn up, and show up as bright flashes, or “shooting stars,” in the night sky.
According to timeanddate.com, the Perseids meteor shower is one of the brighter meteor showers of the year.
Bauer distributed sheets with these recommendations:
• Set aside a good hour or more for observing. Late in the evening and after midnight are good times to see meteors, and one of the best times to see them is during the dark hours just before dawn.
• Dress warmly because the night air can become chilly and damp. Sit or lie so that you can keep your gaze on the sky for as long as possible.
• It is not necessary to look in a certain direction. Look up and fill your gaze with the sky for as long as possible. Meteors tend to appear randomly all over the sky.
• Expect to see one or more bright flashes or streaks of light every few minutes. The Perseids can deliver 50-100 meteors hourly at their peak, Tuesday and Wednesday.
• Be patient. The more you look up, the more you will see.
There’s good weather news ahead for stargazers, according to meteorologist Andy Ervin of the National Weather Service, Davenport.
“We’re looking at cooler-than-normal weather the next several days and low humidity,” Ervin said. Skies should begin clearing Monday night, with clear skies Tuesday and Wednesday.
All three nights, low temperatures will be between 50-60 degrees. “The coolest night will be Tuesday. You’ll need a jacket that night,” Ervin said. “This should be very comfortable weather. No one will be breaking a sweat watching the meteors.”