Usually a site with at least one fairly dark part of the sky can be found. Meteor rates increase dramatically as sky darkness increases, possibly doubling with each one-magnitude gain in star visibility.
A sky dark enough to show 6.0-magnitude stars is generally accepted as the best available, However, magnitude 7.0 is more typically reached in smoke-free areas far from city lights; some superb sites can reach 7.5. Reliable meteor work requires a sky with at least 6.0-magnitde stars. Large correction factors for work done under poorer condit(ons render results uncertain.
At a really dark site, data recording may be a problem as any light can destroy dark adaption. While voice recording to cassette tape seems a good solution, one must be sure the tape player operates properly under adverse temperature and moisture conditions. Manual recording under a dim, easily odjustable light requires some sort of writing surface. If the available area is large enough to keep charts and forms separated, a full section of newspaper on top protects against light wind and dew as well. Individuals can undoubtedly think of other ways to protect charts against wind and dew. Some observers who are simply compiling hourly counts, have found simple hand-held counters to be of great utility. During major showers two such counters, one for each hand, make it relatively easy to separate shower meteors from sporadic ones.
Time keeping using a portable shortwave receiver and ear phones is helpful. Cold weather is a mild to serious problem for meteor observers outside of the tropics. The extremities need the most protection as they cool the fastest. As lying still reduces body heat production, substantial general protection is necessary. Thermal underwear is a good beginning.
The ultimate device for cold-weather observing is o completely enclosed box shelter with window. A heater can be used efficiently inside. The shelter may or may not be portable, depending upon individual plans. Observers lying on their car hoods have the advantage of a warm engine after a ride. The heat generated by only a few miles of travel can last an hour or more. For reheating, the engine can be idled a few minutes as needed.
In warm weather mosquitoes become a problem except in dry areas. Mosquito repellent usually helps most people to varying degrees. In a recent evaluation by Consumers Union, lotions with 15-30% DEET were most effective, but whether these can be used routinely is a medical concern, especially for young people. Burning mosquito coils is an alternative. Both methods are needed when mosquitoes become numerous -- even then, some unfortunate individuals are still susceptible to bites. Long-sleeved shirts and pants increase protection. If the night is too warm to wear many clothes, getting under a sheet works quite well. Then only the face and hands need other protection. Wind becomes a welcome friend now. Electronic mosquito repellers hove not proven too successful.
[Next Page] [Contents] [Previous Page] [Exit]