Meteor Showers

Mid-August is a great time for a Shooting Star Party. Just gather with some family and friends after sunset, spread sheets on the ground, and gaze upward. Although some individuals with autism might not seem to notice the bright streaks through the night sky, it is still a relaxing, enjoyable experience. A bit of planning and a bit of knowledge about meteor showers can make this nighttime adventure a great success.

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The best way to see meteor showers is to find a place in the country, a park, or even your backyard. Just get away from the glare and glow of bright lights. The moon can also interfere with viewing meteors, so pick a time when the moon is not hogging the sky.

Take lawn chairs that lay flat or sheets to spread on the ground. You may want to take insect repellent, but leave the flashlights at home since they just interfere with your night vision. If you must take a flashlight, cover it with red cellophane. You don’t need binoculars or a telescope to see meteors – they will flash so quickly and brightly in the night sky that you can see them by simply looking up.

In mid-August, the earth crosses through a band of tiny bits of dust from the tail of the Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Because the comet dust streaks through the earth’s upper atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour, it flashes brightly in our night sky. The flashes look like shooting stars, but are actually meteors. This annual event, called the Perseid meteor shower, results in up to 30 meteors an hour. During this August shower, you will see most of the meteors in the northeast section of the sky. Other moving objects you will notice are airplanes flying high above the earth (they have flashing lights) and satellites that look like stars that move steadily across the night sky from left to right.

Before going out for your Shooting Star Party, encourage your friend with autism to find out interesting facts about meteors by clicking on Astronomy.com or Stardate.org. For example, they will read that most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand. They will also learn that meteors streak across the sky 24 hours a day. It is just that we cannot see them during the daytime. In fact, several hundred tons of meteors burn up in the atmosphere every single day. Very few meteors survive their fall through the earth’s atmosphere. Those that do are called meteorites.

You can enjoy the bright streaks that light up our night sky at any time of year, but you will want to mark your calendar for mid-August to see a literal shower of shooting stars. Enjoy! We welcome your ideas for adventures and excursions. Just click on the comments button or send an e-mail to talk@FAQautism.com.

NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to talk@FAQautism.com And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com

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