Perseids meteor shower brings out amateur astronomers

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Wed., Aug. 14, 2013
NASA Solar System Ambassador Bill Fournier works on setting up the telescopes of those who attended the Perseids meteor shower viewing event at Windsor Locks Public Library on Aug. 10. The meteors could be seen for about three nights. Photos by Jennifer Coe.
NASA Solar System Ambassador Bill Fournier works on setting up the telescopes of those who attended the Perseids meteor shower viewing event at Windsor Locks Public Library on Aug. 10. The meteors could be seen for about three nights. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

The lawn at Windsor Locks Public Library was filled up with amateur astronomers by 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 10. Many locals - and some not so local - came to the green because it offers a huge span of unimpeded sky. At least 15 telescopes were trained on the sky in preparation to see the Perseids meteor shower that evening.

“My mother used to put me in a lawn chair to watch meteor showers,” said Virginia Meador, who was traveling through Windsor Locks from South Carolina. She and her husband were at the Windsor Locks Public Library that night to observe the meteor shower in full effect.

Others had never seen a meteor shower before, or even taken their telescopes out of the boxes they came in.

“We’ve never done this,” said Jenny Bannock, who was keeping busy spinning yarn. “Hopefully I will see some sparklies,” she said.

In charge of the event was a local “NASA Solar System Ambassador,” who hosts local events in an effort to educate people about the skies above them. Bill Fournier is a member of the Solar System Ambassadors Program, which is an outreach program in which local enthusiasts are given a chance to educate the public about the solar system. There are almost 500 ambassadors in 50 states.

As Fournier was walking around adjusting and readjusting telescopes, he answered general questions about the evening’s events.

Later, he said, “More people kept coming throughout the night and a good number of meteors were sighted. Everyone got to see at least a few.”

Fournier had so many requests for assistance on the telescopes that he has subsequently scheduled one of his telescope “nuts and bolts” classes at the Windsor Locks Public Library community room for Monday, Sept. 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. He will do a hands-on instruction with tune-ups, if needed.

The Perseids is a meteor shower which comes from the comet called Swift-Tuttle. The shower can be viewed annually for a few nights in August.


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