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Meteor

Prepare Yourself For A Meteor Storm

It is unknown whether anybody has ever died from being hit by a meteor so you could rest on your laurels and think ‘Ah it will never happen’ and just ignore the fact there might be a meteor storm or one large meteor that could in reality become a devastating natural disaster. However a deciding factor is that it could happen and it has happened. One such incidence occurred as recently as 2013 in an area called Chelyabinsk in Russia.

 

Known as the Chelyabinsk meteor airburst event, an extraordinary 1,613 people were injured although luckily none were fatal. As many as seven and a half thousand buildings were damaged including a major collapsed factory roof. Also known as the Chelyabinsk meteorite it was as a local politician said ‘it was an utter miracle that no one was killed.’ After entering the earths atmosphere it quickly became a brilliant superbolide over the southern Ural Region of Russia. Get this – the light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun and was visible up to 100 km (62 miles in old money) away. It was observed over a wide area of the region and in neighbouring republics. Some eyewitnesses also felt intense heat from the fireball. The blast yield of 400–500 kilotons of TNT and was estimated to have released 30 times more energy as that released from the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima in the second world war. Did I say to be wary of meteors?

 

So what is a meteor? And for that matter what is a meteoroid, a meteorite and an asteroid because it all sounds a little bit confusing to the man in the street? So to clear this up, a meteor is the streak of light that you see in the sky when a small piece of cometary or asteroidal matter and material enters the atmosphere at a very high speed and burns up because of the frictional heating from the piece’s collision with the atoms and the molecules in the atmosphere. Before the small bit of comet or asteroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it floats through space and is called at this stage a meteoroid.  A meteoroid is a small rock or particle of debris in our solar system. They range in size from dust to around 10 metres in diameter (larger objects are usually referred to as asteroids).

 

Most meteoroids that enter the atmosphere burn up completely as meteors. In some cases, however, the meteoroid does not completely burn up, and the object actually makes it to Earth’s surface. The piece that has survived its fiery journey is called a meteorite. A small body starts its life as a meteoroid floating through space between the planets until it makes a bright streak of light in Earth’s atmosphere as a meteor and then, if it isn’t consumed by over heating, finally lands on the ground as a meteorite. If it shines brightly and shortly in the sky it is called by many a shooting star. There you go, a shooting star is a meteor. OK, well I hope that was clear and concise for you.

 

The fastest meteoroids travel through the solar system at a speed of around 42 kilometres per second (26 miles per second) and the Earth’s atmosphere experiences millions of meteors every day. Meteors are easier to see during the lower light conditions of night but of course they do fall during the day too, you just can’t see the little blighters. There are even a small percentage of meteoroids that fly on a path that goes into the Earth’s atmosphere and then back out again. These are known rather poetically as Earth grazing fireballs. I kid you not!

 

OK, so all this is beginning to make sense. So what is a meteor shower then? Well, when many meteors occur in a close time frame in the same part of the sky it is called a meteor shower. Simple as that. So we can see them but because they burn and fade, only about 500 meteorites manage to reach the Earth’s surface every year but of those only around 5 ever make it to scientists for study. Indeed for those meteorites that are observed as they fall through the Earth’s atmosphere and later recovered are called ‘falls’, all others are called ‘finds’. To this date there have been around 1000 collected ‘falls’ and 40000 ‘finds’.

 

 

Another article in our prepping series, make sure you are ready just in case you are involved in the unlikelihood that you’ll be somewhere where there are frequent meteors or meteor showers. Ensure you are as well prepared as you can possibly be in the event that you might get caught out. Better to be as ready as you can in the situation. Here we look at one area to ensure you can feel relatively safe in your own home with extra strength windows and a couple of ideas for prepping for actually seeing a meteor shower outside.

 

As we always stipulate use your common sense and keep a hold of our checklist. Here are a number of essentials in case of the unlikelihood of a meteor storm or shower that could be both exciting or in the case of the Chelyabinsk meteor airburst event, quite frightening.

 

 

Checklist -With various options.

 

 

Extra Strengthened Windows. If you live close to a potential meteor shower or are aware that you could be engulfed in the extremeties of such an unusual occurrence then get some heavy duty strengthened windows as it is an important step to ensuring your own safety.

 

Well, can you get high strength glass or is there even such a thing as unbreakable glass? The answer is ‘sort of…mostly’. There are two types of windows marketed as “unbreakable” glass. Laminated windows: A type of window manufactured with a thin piece of optically transparent plastic sandwiched between two thin sheets of normal glass. The second option is Polycarbonate windows: A type of purely plastic “glass” window made of fused panels of thick, sturdy and flexible polycarbonate. Both these types of “unbreakable glass” are strong and much more durable and lightweight than normal glass windows. Additionally, both laminate and polycarbonate windows do a great job of insulating a home. The manufacturers say that a polycarbonate window is much more difficult to break through than a standard glass window. In fact, according to some estimates a polycarbonate window is over 200 times more resistant to impact! Wa-hey there’s our safety net… 200 times more resistant when compared to standard glass windows. They allegedly offer superior protection against burglaries and weather related disasters too. Well, wowie David Bowie, what is out on the market?

 

The wonderfully named ZYFWBDZ Door Window Outdoor Awning, Patio Cover UV Rain Snow Protection Polycarbonate Hollow Sheet for doorways, patios and decks,Brown B,40″ x 80″ is available from Amazon.co.uk and can be snapped up for £307.63. To be fair despite the ridiculous name the Polycarbonate sheet does look rather stylish and a bit like one lens of a pair of sunglasses.

 

YF-Barstool also make an alternative, the equally snappily titled Canopy Awning for Door and Window Front Door Canopy Outdoor Awning, Roofing Canopies Rain Shelter Cover for Back Door, Porch, Window, 39.4″ X 39.4″. Also from Amazon this can be yours for £287.70 plus postage. Just so you are aware here are the specs: It’s a COMPACT ONE-PIECE SHEET: Seamless Surface, No Water Leaking, Looks Sleek, Much Better Than Other Brands’ Junctional Pieces Construction. So that’s part of the blurb but goes on. PC HOLLOW SHEET: UV-resistant, good Transmittance, Helps Lower The Heat Of Blazing Sunshine & Cool Down The Indoor Temperature, cuts Down Electricity Bill In Summer Days. SOLID CONSTRUCTION: Bracket Made By High Quality Aluminum Alloy, Can Withstand Wind/rain Storm, Light Snow, load Up To 45lbs. Hopefully it will stand a meteor shower too. Lots of choices on the dimensions for you. Overall Dimension (Extend x Wall Stickers): 23.6″ X 31.5″, 23.6″ X 39.4″, 31.5″ X 31.5″, 31.5″ X 39.4″, 31.5″ X 47.2″, 39.4″ X 39.4″, 39.4″ X 47.2″, 47.2″ X 39.4″, 47.2″ X 47.2″. It is supposedly EASY TO INSTALL & DIY: Comes With A Clear Instruction, is easy To Put Together And Install. You Can Connect Multiple Awnings Together For Wider Coverage. It is a VERSTILE AWNING: Block Direct Sunlight, Keep The Rain And Snow Off The Door When Open, Will Protect Your Furniture, Floor, Window, Door.

 

 

 

Binoculars. Well you need to keep an eye out for these meteors so what better way than with a decent pair of binoculars.

 

Jessops.com offer a wide range of binoculars for the amateur to the full on nerdy professional and many are just perfect for viewing that meteor or a whole meteor shower if you are lucky. Through Jessops you can pick up the Nikon 10×42 Monarch 5 Binoculars. Product code: 5272631. It features Rubber armouring, Multilayer prism coating, ED Glass, Water and is Fog proof and allows 10x Magnification. It focuses in on a price of £269.00 and looks compact and pretty smart. The Nikon 10×42 Monarch 5 Binoculars produces exceptional image quality thanks to the ED glass and dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coating. Offering 10x magnification and a 42mm diameter lens, the Monarch 5 has rubber armouring for shock resistance and a firm, comfortable grip. The turn-and-slide rubber eyecups with multi-click facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eyepoint and Monarch 5 have a close focusing distance of 2.5m. It is also Waterproof (up to 1m) and fog proof with nitrogen gas. Mind you I guess you wouldn’t see a meteor in the fog so not an essential feature for meteor watching!

 

Manufacturers Pentax who like Nikon have a great name in the Binoculars field and have done for may years offer the Pentax SP 20×60 Waterproof binoculars. Just in case you’re either in the bath or splashing about in a river while watching a shower. Again available from the respected Jessops these binoculars features include Fully multi-coated optics, Protective lens coating, they are Nitrogen purged whatever that is although it sounds fancy and are made from a Magnesium alloy construction. Of course they are Waterproof too. They are available for £249.00 so slightly cheaper than the Nikon. These sturdy binoculars were created for heavy duty applications. The rubber armoured waterproof and nitrogen-purged body withstands weather, dust or rough impact. Add high imaging capability and you have binoculars that you can take to extreme conditions – on land or on water. These binoculars meet the traditional demand for 20x magnification. It has all the quality features found in the entire roof prism range PENTAX has on offer: fully multi-coated lenses, inner focusing, water and dust proof, nitrogen-purged and phase correction coatings on the BaK4 prisms. The new Enhanced light transmission coating creates crystal sharp images. The polycarbonate housing makes the whole package a full size light weight. It also offers 4 stop, helicoid eyecups. When weight is a critical factor for you, then these binoculars are the perfect reason to upgrade to full size.


If you are going to go the whole hog and want state of the art, top of the range, all guns blazing binoculars then look no further than ebay who have the Swarovski EL FieldPro 10×50 W B Binoculars up for grabs through an ebay Premium service. They are not cheap but we are talking Swarovski after all! These little beauties will set you back a mind boggling £2,045.00 but are apparently the bees knees of binoculars.

 

With an eye for the discerning nature enthusiast and seasoned expert and meteor fans too, Swarovski’s green 10×50 EL Binoculars feature multiple optical technologies to improve image quality and ensure accurate colors in all weather and lighting conditions—especially in low light, such as dawn and dusk or in heavily canopied woods. Its wide 66° viewing angle and powerful 10x magnification make this optic ideal for medium to long range viewing and offer a completely immersive observational experience. The ELs employ a suite of SWAROVISION coatings and technologies including SWAROBRIGHT, SWAROTOP, SWARODUR, SWAROCLEAN, phase-correcting P-coatings, field-flattener lenses, and fluoride glass. These technologies work seamlessly to produce bright and clear high contrast and high resolution images with true color fidelity and virtually no distortion across the entire field of view.

 

Complementing the optical performance is a lightweight and durable magnesium alloy chassis that can withstand a life in extreme conditions. Its nitrogen filled optical tubes are water and fogproof to ensure performance in all weather and environments without internal fogging when moving quickly between wide temperature ranges. An ergonomic, wraparound green rubber armor ensures that the binoculars will remain comfortable in the hand during long glassing sessions and helps to maintain a sure grip when it’s cold and wet. This version of the EL comes with Swarovski’s FieldPro package that features their proprietary rotating pin attachment and adjustment system for the strap that improves mobility and comfort over conventional systems. Included with the binocular are the FieldPro bag, carrying strap, tethered objective lens covers, and a soft rubber tethered ocular rainguard. Pretty impressive eh? So the Optical Performance is as follows: 10x magnification, 50mm objective lenses, Compact roof prism optical path, Fluoride glass virtually eliminates chromatic aberration for improved color rendition, resolution, and contrast. Then there is the SWAROBRIGHT coatings that provide enhanced contrast, brightness, and color fidelity, SWAROTOP coatings on lenses and prisms reduce light reflection to improve brightness and contrast, Phase correcting P-coating further improves color and contrast, Field flattener lenses improve edge sharpness and lower the distortion, SWARODUR outer coating on optics helps to prevent scratches and abrasions. SWAROCLEAN non-stick coatings make cleaning dirt, dust, sap, moisture, and fingerprints from lens surfaces easy and fast, 345′ field of view at 1000 yards, Wide 66° apparent angle of view. Phew, I’m glad we know all that!

 

If that is a bit out of your league price wise then you can rely on an old favourite in Olympus who offer the Olympus Binocular 8-16×40 S via Amazon.de. It weighs in at a much more comfortable €111.64 (in Euros please note) and in Olympus you have another name you can trust and rely upon. Despite its compact price it has a powerful 8-16x zoom function that allows you to quickly and easily adjust the magnification to the respective observation situation and ensures excellent target resolution over the entire magnification range. It’s got high precision optics that provide a bright, clear field of vision with excellent light transmission and crisp, high-resolution images with minimal distortion and chromatic aberration, even in low light conditions. The solid and high quality housing withstands even the most adverse environmental conditions – ideal for use in nature. A rubberised handle ensures a secure grip and comfortable operation. With compact size and ergonomic controls, these lightweight binoculars offer maximum comfort, functionality and mobility. Even with gloves, the focus wheel can be operated quickly and easily. In addition to the rubberised eyepiece, the lens cap and soft carrying case offer solid protection. Thanks to the comfortable carrying strap, the binoculars are always at hand and are ready for the next observation.

 

As mentioned meteors arrive in the daytime too but we can’t see them as it’s too light which means outside observation is only applicable to those in the evening when it can get a bit chilly. So what specific blankets can you get that will keep you warm while you get pelted with the beauty of a meteor shower?

 

Observation Blankets.

 

The exotically titled Patagonia Macro Puff Quilt is available from Patagonia.com in a variety of decent colours. You can wrap yourself up in these blankets (sorry quilts) for $249.00 and that includes free shipping. This Macro Puff Quilt packs an incredibly warm punch relative to its weight and is very easy to travel with as it compacts down into a small stuff sack you can throw anywhere. It stays warm even when wet and will keep you and whoever snuggles up underneath it warm. It’s made with a lightweight water resistant shell and has synthetic insulation that mimics the experience of down with the ability to handle moisture and maintain warmth.

Also available and looking like something from The Magnificent Seven film or any western for that matter is the Pendleton Yakima Camp Throw. At $119.00 it oozes quality. It is a wool blanket: what could be better for winter? Threaded in America and modeled after blankets used by shepherds to brave the Pacific Northwest, this blanket will be sturdy and warm for the colder months. Personally I think it’s gorgeous enough to hang up on your living room wall and this cracker of a throw can be had at Pendleton-usa.com. Size is 54″ x 66″. Made of Pure virgin wool/cotton, Fabric is woven in American mills and can be dry cleaned. It comes in a minimum of 5 colours.

 

Finally, my favourite name in this article is the Woolly Mammoth Woolen Company Explorer Collection Blanket(told you it is a great name). However the blanket looks warm and cosy too! It’s woven with 80% premium virgin Merino wool. And while it’s an eye popping 66 by 90 inches, it only weighs 4 pounds. That’s just what you’ll want to reach for after a long day of backpacking, boating, fishing, hiking or meteor gazing! This is the blanket that makes camping and watching the shooting stars so much more comfortable. It will set you back a measley $69.99 from Amazon.com.

 

So that is a quick run down of three important areas you should consider when it comes to looking to give yourself a better chance of prepping in a meteor shower. Whatever you do, plan well in advance and test out the equipment where appropriate. It is important to make an emergency plan and work out what you need in advance then you will be well on your way to ensuring you are ready in the event of a meteor shower and ready to observe the joys and excitement of meteor watching.

 

Be safe. Be secure. Be ready. Be sensible.