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I got my meteor on last night, and it was totally worth it. In fact, I'm heading back for round two tonight, and I recommend you do the same. I stayed up LATE to make sure to get the full effect, but you guys don't have to be so extreme. In fact, I saw a damn good meteor, one of the nicest ones of the night, right around 11 PM. If the skies are decently clear and dark where you're at, and you spend at least a half hour out there, you'll probably be like "yep, that was the coolest shooting star I've seen in my life."


I waste a lot of time staring up at the sky at night, so I've seen plenty of them, a couple even through my telescope eyepiece. What I'd never seen before were the thick, bright orange streaks that left long smoke trails lingering in their wake Turns out it wasn't really smoke at all, but something called a persistent train. These are balls of outer space ice striking the atmosphere at 25 miles per second, so it isn't going to smoke like a chunk of wood on the barbecue. Instead, it ionizes the gases in the upper atmosphere, stripping the electrons from their parent atoms. The light we see as smoke is emitted as the electrons and atoms recombine.

Meteors of that level came regularly enough to really reward spending a lot of time outside, and I saw one true fireball. Rather than orange, it was like a bright white flash that actually illuminated the surrounding space. Just lay a pad down on the ground outside, put some cushiony stuff on it, then lay on your back facing the northeast. If you're there with a friend you can just talk about random shit, and every time they look away to get a snack or roll over you be like "OOH OOH a huge meteor! You missed it!" That NEVER gets old.

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