(meteorobs) Why don't more amateurs get it? (Meteors,

Kenneth Drake kdrako at cebridge.net
Thu Sep 20 10:14:52 EDT 2007

Lew Gramer wrote............

"During this relatively quiet period of mid-September, I wanted to
put a question to our forum: why is it, that something so simple,
so easy, so beautiful, so significant, and so FUN, simply fails to
capture the imagination of most newcomers to astronomy? Why
aren't ALL our fellow amateurs out there with lawn chairs, before
they even pick up their first pair of binoculars? What is missing?"


I would suggest that many getting into amateur astronomy do not get
exposure early on to the thrill of observing meteors and their
related showers. I think in part because of just what has happened
here - the lack of presentation by a world renowned person like
Timothy Ferris and the little energy from most of the clubs on the
subject. Individuals within clubs need to take on the spread of the
news themselves. I think another thing that might impede beginners
interest is some of the confusion in getting info on some of the
showers. Until recently the radiant of any shower was given in
declination and solar longitude not right ascension. Most newbies
learn to find things by r.a. and dec. not the obscure solar
longitude. Another thing I would suggest is that there are only 4
really active showers each year if you include the Eta Aquarids
(daytime) and one of them (Quadrantids) makes for some pretty
chilling observing. My Wife, a non-astronomer, always sees and
counts more meteors than I do. She counted over 2300 Leonids in
one night in 2001. But she has absolutely no interest in ZHR,
population index, NELM, radiant, or solar longitude. Just bring
on the fireballs and persistent trains! The only other
"astronomy" that gets her juices flowing is a bright Iridium
flare. See any similarity here? I ditto what Joe Rao said about
available skies and the thrill of watching Jupiter's moons or
rings of Saturn in your first telescope.

Kenneth (drako) Drake

More information about the Meteorobs mailing list