Monthly Archives: August 2009

Just saw a shooting star!

I think I just saw a shooting star!  I went outside to check out the Perseid meteor shower, which was supposed to peak last night, and saw a very bright point trace itself across the sky.  It left a trail about 15-20 degrees long in my field of view, which stayed lit for about a quarter second. The last time I thought I saw one, it was very faint, but this time, it was very bright.

I suppose it could’ve been a satellite in low earth orbit which happened to light itself for that short arc across my vision, or fragment from some fireworks, but the former seems unlikely, and the latter should’ve been accompanied by some sound and other light trails.

Wow.  I’ve never seen one so bright and so obvious.  It definitely helped to fire up Stellarium, and locate the Perseus constellation.  But what helped more was to get the RA and DEC (right ascension and declination) for the shower (RA 03h 04m Dec +58°), and to see the real location in the sky in relation to the other constellations (turn on azimuthal grid and equatorial grid).  Stellarium tells you where to look in the sky, depending on where you are and what time it is.  You can even advance/backtrack in time so you know when it’s above the horizon and when it’s close/far from the moon.