Tonight, October 20/21, 2012, marks the peak of the Orionid meteor shower for 2012. While we would all have a Moonless night and clear skies in a perfect world, the world isn't perfect, which means that some of us will be clouded out for the night (though the Moon will be out of the way, though). Fortunately, thanks to modern technology, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to watch the Orionid meteor Shower thanks to live video feeds, one from NASA and the other from the Slooh Space Cam.
For anyone who's looking to have clear skies tonight, here are some viewing tips:
1. Plan to stay out a while, as it takes the human eye about 15 minutes to get optimal night vision capability. The bad news is that, even one bright flash of white light will wipe out night vision, requiring you to start the process all over again.
2. Grab a lawn chair or, even better, a lounge-type chair. Trying to lean back with a straight-back lawn chair can be a pain in the neck, literally! Eyes ready for dark and with something to sit/lay on, settle in for a night of hopeful meteor watching (or at the very least, stargazing), just try not to fall asleep and don't forget to dress warmly and bring the bug spray!
3. Don't forget to bring a coat as this is winter and, chances are, things will be pretty cool in most locations tonight.
Besides meteors, tonight can be a great time for binocular viewing, owing to your use of a chair. Under suburban (maybe) or rural skies (definitely), a pair of medium power (10x50) binoculars can yield some stunning wide-angle sights. For someone truly dedicated, why not try and keep a tally of how many meteors you see for every complete hour? For the record, the Orionids typically spawn around 20 meteors per hour on peak night.
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