The Aurigid Meteor Shower for 2007; Aurigids, aurigid meteors, aurigids, Key Dates: August 31, 2007 and September 1, 2007; meteor; When to Watch; Where to Look in the Sky; Where to Watch From; How to Watch; What to Expect; Auriga
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The Aurigids: A Rare Meteor Shower

This year, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a meteor shower call the Alpha Aurigids. The last time there was a significant display was in 1994, and the 20th century had only three such displays -- the other two being in 1935 and 1986; 2007 is the first chance to view the Aurigids in the 21st century (for the next one, you'll have to wait for about 70 years). This year's "show" is expected to the best of the four! However, an almost full moon will create glare that will reduce the number of meteors that you can see.

The event takes place in the early morning of September 1 (which is during the night that starts on Friday, August 31). The shower is expected to last for about one hour peaking at around 11:30 UT, which corresponds to 4:30am Pacific Daylight Time. Since predictions about the peak time are not always perfect, one should starting watching 60 to 90 minutes before the peak. The Seti website has a Java Applet calculator to display the peak in your location. The timing favors those who live in the western part of North America. Because the meteors will be radiating from the constellation Auriga, you should look to the East and Northeast part of the morning sky.

The source of the meteors is a comet called Kiess that passed by the Sun in 1911. It takes almost 2000 years for Comet Kiess to complete an orbit. Dust particles and debris from the comet burn up in the Earth's atmosphere creating "shooting stars." For this year's display, the dust actually originated not from the 1911 passing but from the one that occurred 2000 years ago.

For more information on how to view a meteor shower, visit Jupiter Scientific's webpage on the Perseids.



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