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How do I maximize my chances of seeing shooting stars? (Intermediate)

How can I increase my chances of seeing a shooting star?

Shooting stars take time to find, especially if you live where most of the US does surrounded by nasty light pollution. According to the American Meteor Society, you'd expect to see 2 to 16 meteors in a really good dark sight. With light pollution, you might not see any. My grandmother didn't see her first shooting star until her 70s when I took her outside on a nice night in a rural Maine.

The best way to improve your chances of seeing meteors are to:

  • Look up at the right time:
    • during a meteor shower where they're most frequent
    • In the hours before dawn. Imagine Earth to be a spaceship going through comet dust (which burn up as meteors). At dawn, you're on the part of "Spaceship Earth" that is facing forward and plowing into debris.
    • Look up when the moon's phase is close to new moon so that the sky is darker
  • Look from the right place . Go to a dark sky sight where you can see fainter meteors. This site has a nice map: http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/