If you're on the west coast tonight and are willing to stay up late or wake up early, you have the chance to see the Aurigid meteor shower. This shower is fairly unique because it arises from a comet with a period of around 900 years. Some people have even claimed that there's a chance this could be spectacular, but these predictions are often wrong. After the disappointing Perseids, I'd love to be able to stay up for this one, but I'm still on the east coast. Ah well. Maybe some other shower.
The EOS (American Geophysical Union weekly) a few weeks ago suggested as high as 200 per minute surrounding the peak at 4:26 PST. Alas, I will be in Western Washington, under a canopy of overcast skies.
Okay, it should be the peak of the shower. I went out again into my garden, used a branch of one of my orange trees to block the Moon, and looked to the Northeast.
120 seconds, not a single meteor.
Not much of a shower for me, in Altadena, California, so far.
Will go for another observation now.
180 seconds, one meteor, roughly first magnitude, about a degree and half towards the zenith from Orion.
So that's (adding in the previous 120 seconds) 1 in 5 minutes total near the peak, in good seeing. Hard to distinguish from random background this time of year. Warm, crickets, nice outside, but pretty much a bust as meteor showers go. Will go back to bed.
Yesterday, 31 Aug 2007, I finished handing in documents, online form-filling, originals of letters of recommendation, originals of Caltech undergrad transcript, UMass grad transcript, proof of CBEST exams passed, proof of TB test showing me noninfectious, proof of previously paid FBI and DoJ fingerprinting, fees paid, and am now, for first time in 34 years, a grad student again.
This time it's in a College of Education of the California State University system, just to be officially credentialed to teach several subjects in High School (Physics, Math, English Lit, Biotechnology) under restrictive No Child Left Behind regulations. Two admissions procedures, one of the university, one for the college of education. Fees so far: $225 for rights to have my existing degrees recertified in 3 subjects, $55 for university registration, $65 for college of ed registration, total $345 before credits to be paid for Philosophy of Education course, How to Teach High school course (I've already taught Math in an inner city high school this smmer), and hopefully can take the exam they give at UCLA to avoid having to take the Constitution course (I've been In Pro Per on a First Amendment case, and had ACLU support for another, so I know a bit about the Constitution).
When the system makes it this hard to teach High School, there are just two kinds of High School teachers: the incompetent, and those who are overqualified but doing it as a kind of hobby.
In my spare time, I'll be completing over a dozen conference papwers coauthored this month whose abstracts were accepted, and then polishing some stuff of arXiv publication. But those poor teenagers so very much need teachers who actually know their subject matter, and how to teach.
I spent about fifteen minutes looking. About half the sky was visable. I was surprised that dispite a quarterplus moon I was able to see six of the Pleiades.
Saw two for sure. Three other peripheral vision "was a star there?" maybes.
Perhaps with a good dark site (impossible with the moon) it might have made 1/minute.
We drove up (from Long Beach) to Bristlecone Pine National Forest to view the event, but perhaps went to more effort than the display warrented. The moon was ungodly bright. But, starting at 3:45 we began to see a few impressive meteors, some of which were followed by a distinct tail that lasted long enough that (as my son said) you could be sure it wasn't an illusion. They seemed to go in clusters--nothing for several minutes, and then two or three in a few seconds. I went to bed at 4:45 after a long drag when nothing occurred, but my son reported a few good ones after that.