Meteor 'outburst' expected Saturday morning

By Diane Urbani de la Paz, Peninsula Daily News

Find a place to lie down and look up Saturday morning, because a meteor "outburst" is forecast over the Pacific Northwest.

Professional astronomer Tom Van Flandern of Sequim said the Aurigids, meteors radiating from the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer, are expected to light the sky at about 4:15 a.m. Saturday, give or take 20 minutes.

The Aurigid stream is called an outburst because it'll be short and intense, Van Flandern said.

It could produce 200 to 300 meteors in an hour, or four or five each minute.

"The uncertainties are quite large," he added, so the meteors could come at a rate of one per minute to 10 per minute.

In much of the country, it'll be too light in the sky for stargazers to catch the show - but the Pacific Northwest, the last region to see the sunrise, is ideally located.

The Aurigids are a little-known meteor shower, Van Flandern added.

It's been observed only twice in history.

This time around could be spectacular, he said, because "the Earth is going to go right through the stream," if all goes as astronomers predict.

Van Flandern advises meteor watchers to find a place far from city lights - and where they can comfortably stretch out.

"These will probably be better than the Perseids," a meteor shower visible in early August, he said.

"But the stream is a short-lived affair."

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Sequim Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 30. 2007 9:00PM
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