The first weeks of fall are a great time of year to see meteors in the pre-dawn sky of northern California and elsewhere. I get up most mornings between 5 and 6 a.m. and head outside into the still quiet with a cup of hot french roast to watch the stars. Lately I’ve seen several meteors every morning, even though I’m out for only 10-20 minutes. (And I’m always hoping I’ll see another fireball)
Northern California: Why Early Fall Is a Good Time for Morning Meteors
For starters, there are several minor showers that each add 1-3 meteors per hour. Couple that with the background rate of 10 random meteors per hour and you get a rate of 33 meteors per hour for observers in mid-northern latitudes during the last week of October, and that’s quite good. (For weekly updates on meteor activity, your best source is this page at the American Meteor Society, and the AMS also shares the best ways to observe meteors.)
It’s also dark quite late into the morning. You can get out as late as 6 a.m. and still have a fairly dark sky, and right now there’s only a thin crescent moon that will soon disappear to the other side of the sun. However, once Daylight Savings ends on Sunday, November 6, the sun will rise nearly an hour earlier.
Finally, the weather is quite cooperative now. Where I live near Mount Shasta, skies are clear, the winds are light, and the temperatures are moderate.
Do you like to get out under the night sky? Are you a meteor watcher?