Watch the Aurigids at 4:30am on the night between August 31-September 1, 2007 for an “outburst” of meteors lasting about two hours. (It’s called an “outburst” instead of a “shower” because it’s so short and bright).
Why should I get up at 4:30am?
Although we’re only talking about several dozen meteors, these should be some of the brightest ones you’ve ever seen. According to NASA Ames Research Center, we will be looking at meteors brighter than the brightest stars in the night sky.
This is the only predicted meteor shower from a long-period comet (a comet that passes the Sun less than every 100 years or so) in our lifetimes. This is so exciting, cool, and rare that a conglomeration of scientists is going observe the meteors from a plane flying over California during the peak of the shower.
Where are they from?
Comet Kiess circled past the sun some time in the 40 years around 4 C.E., and again in 1911. The dust particles that make the Aurigid meteors are from this comet, but they’re pushed in and out of the Earth’s orbit by the gravitational forces of the Sun and other planets, so we don’t see the meteors every year. The last sightings were in 1935, 1986, and 1994.
Want to be Official?
Take part in the campaign! You can contribute to the study of the Aurigid shower by: recording your visual observations. Count meteors in 1-minute intervals. Do not change viewing direction, keep Moon out of field of view. The Aurigid Meteor Observation Project explains how to use a laptop to do the counting for you. Report your observations to: pjenniskens [at] seti.org.
http://aurigids.seti.org/ – More information about the mission, and how you can contribute.