Originally posted by tasim
Is there anyway to know when these meteors, if they are in fact from the Alpha Centaurids Meteor Shower, would be seen? I would love to see one but
its way too cold to sit out there for hours waiting.
The meteor being discussed in this thread was almost certainly not an Alpha Centaurid. As I said before, events like this are asteroidal in origin.
Annual meteor showers are caused by comets in most cases, and are therefore more predictable in terms of the peak time, since we are passing though
the tail of a comet, which contains billions of meteoroids.
Asteroids tend to be more random in nature, and its very rare for us to spot incoming asteroids before they hit since they are usually on their own.
Small asteroids like this one are very hard to spot (even with the best equipment), although we are steadily getting better at it.
The upshot of all this is that you are unlikely to see a large event like this even if you look for it at the best times. It's just luck if you see
Your best bet is to observe the major annual meteor showers that occur throughout the year, and you can catch smaller (but by no means unimpressive!)
fireballs that occur at the peaks of these showers if
you put in enough observing time.
The real trick to seeing them is to be prepared so that you are not cold. Firstly you need to put on lots of layers of cloths, and then you want to
lay down flat on a sunbed/camp-bed/air-bed, and use a sleeping bag (or two if it's really cold).
If you do that, you'll be able to observe for long periods of time without getting too uncomfortable, and your chances of seeing something impressive
go up dramatically.Although it won't help with seeing a bright fireball. you will see lots more smaller meteors (and other stuff too) if you get
away from the city/town, and make the time pass quicker since you will encounter less lulls when nothing is going on. It makes for a much better
experience overall if you can find a good observing site that is dark, and also has good all round views.
The major meteor showers I would recommend are the Quadrantids (January), Perseids (August), Taurids (November), and the Geminids (December). If you
observe around the peak nights of these showers, you will soon start to see bright meteors and fireballs which can sometimes rival the brightness of a
full moon. You will also see sporadic meteors, which include the occasional fireball of asteroidal origin. I've lost count of the asteroidal meteors
and fireballs I've seen over the years while observing annual meteor showers. They are usually quite easy to tell apart from cometary meteors since
they are relatively slow and long lasting, and they tend to flare wildly and sometimes visibly break up into pieces.
A little planning ahead will go a long way, especially if you are clouded out a lot where you are. Plan to observe at least 2 or 3 major showers, and
on the nights before or after the peak night, or the weather will likely spoil your plans, unless you are fortunate to be somewhere where you get lots
of clear nights.
If you want to learn a bit more on the subject, I have written a sort of FAQ on meteors which has lots of useful links and info which can be found