Urban Meteor Map sheds light on best places to view meteor showers

August is the best month in the year for viewing meteors. The Perseid meteor shower will peak during the weekend of 12-13 august, with little interference from the moon. Where can you find the best viewing spot? Sebastiaan de Vet tried to find out by creating a new map.

The amount of visible meteors depends on various factor, such as sky brightness, the time during the night when you are observing and the visible portion of the sky. In densely populated urban areas, finding a good spot might be a challenge.

TU Delft planetary scientist and lecturer Sebastiaan de Vet tried to find out where you could find the best viewing spots close to home. As a meteor observer in his spare time, he is no stranger to these challenges. ‘Ideally we advise people to go to a dark sky site, but the reality is that not everyone can travel. So, finding the best-possible viewing spot closer to home might give you just as much fun’, he notes.

By combining various data sources, de Vet created a map-based forecast for the whole of the Netherlands. With the peak activity of the Perseids approaching, he release an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap to showcase some of the first results. Knowing where you could see a few more meteors per hour, De Vet hopes to motivate people to explore their surroundings. ‘I remember seeing only a few Perseids during previous years at the beaches of The Hague. This motivated me to create the map. Seeing the first results now, I know that next time I should bike a bit further to find a better spot’.

De Vet will be presenting more about his ‘Urban Meteor Map’ later this summer at the International Meteor Conference 2023, which is organised by the International Meteor Organisation in Redu, Belgium.