Meteor Showers Peaking Over Oregon, Portland, Coast Next Couple Mornings
(Oregon Coast) – Chances appear to be better to spot them inland rather than the Oregon coast, but either way a spectacular meteor shower hits the skies late tonight and just before dawn. The beaches, however, will get a good show later. (Above: near Cannon Beach).
OMSI astronomer Jim Todd said the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is peaking right about now, with the forecast for the greatest number of meteors lighting up the predawn skies over the next few mornings. This bodes well for spotting them on the Oregon coast as overnight forecasts for the beaches show mostly clear conditions over the next few days, even if not tonight.
The wee morning hours will be very clear for Portland.
“Choose an observing location which gives a wide view of the sky with as few obstructions as possible,” Todd said. “If you're viewing from the city, try to observe where artificial lights obstruct the least. Meteor watching is basically an unaided-eye event but binoculars are handy for watching trails (persistent trains) that may hang in the sky for one or more seconds after a meteor's passage. Luckily, the waxing crescent moon will set well before the peak hours of this year’s Eta Aquarid display. Best location for the Portland viewers are L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, Milo McIver State Park, east side of the Cascades, North Plains, and east of Sandy.”
Todd said the best time to spot these is just before twilight Wednesday and Thursday morning, when this shower is still at its peak. In a dark sky, especially at more southerly latitudes, the Eta Aquarids can produce up to 20 to 40 meteors per hour. From Portland, you might only see about 10 meteors per hour.
You'll see them radiate from the Y-shaped group of stars called the Water Jar, part of the constellation of Aquarius.
“The Radiant will be low in the east but don't concentrate just on that one area, but rather, let your gaze wander over a large portion of the sky,” Todd said.
Those closer to the Radiant will have shorter streaks down the sky while the longer streaks happen from meteors that pop out farther from the Radiant. As the hours pass the Radiant rises higher and between about midnight and dawn the greatest number of meteors can be seen.
City lights will diminish the sights, but with clearer skies along the Oregon coast on Thursday morning you're in for a treat, as beach skies tend to be pitch black and starfields show up more intensely.
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