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Draconid meteor shower 2017 will light up the skies this weekend

KEEP your eyes on the sky this weekend because you could be in for a treat. The Draconid meteor shower is set to hit its peak this weekend, offering stargazers the opportunity to see dozens of shooting stars blazing across the sky. This stunning celestial display, which is also known as the Giacobinids, takes place every year […]

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KEEP your eyes on the sky this weekend because you could be in for a treat.

The Draconid meteor shower is set to hit its peak this weekend, offering stargazers the opportunity to see dozens of shooting stars blazing across the sky.

The Draconid meteor shower will hit its stunning peak this weekend
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This stunning celestial display, which is also known as the Giacobinids, takes place every year and is one of the two meteor showers to light up the skies in October.

The streaks spawn from the comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, which orbits around the Sun for six-and-a-half years.

Over the weekend, the Earth will pass through a swarm of debris left in the comet’s wake, leading to meteors which appear as bright shooting stars when they enter the atmosphere and burn up.

According to the Royal Observatory astronomer Affelia Wibisono, the shower is expected to peak on Sunday.

She added: “The best time to see them is in the early evening on that day, but they are visible all through the night, weather depending of course.”

The meteor shower is most likely to be visible in the direction of the constellation of Draco, the Dragon, in the northern sky, just after nightfall.

METEOR SHOWERS THAT ARE STILL TO COME IN 2017

October 7-8: Draconid

October 21: Orionid

November 5: Taurid

November 17: Leonid

December 14: Geminid

December 23: Ursid

The Perseid Meteor Shower seen over The Scorhill Stone Circle in Dartmoor, Devon
SWNS

However, Ms Wibisono said moonlight from the waning gibbous moon – a phase where the Earth’s natural satellite is partially illuminated by direct sunlight – might make it harder to spot the fainter meteors.

She said: “The best thing to do is to turn your back to the moon to minimise the amount of light pollution. And of course, get away from the city lights.”

The meteors can be observed with the naked eye.

A second meteor shower, the Orionids, will also take place later this month, peaking on October 21.

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Science

How to control your dreams using ‘lucid dreaming’ techniques

SCIENTISTS are claiming to have discovered a foolproof way of allowing people to experience “lucid dreaming” in which they can control their dreams. Experts from the University of Adelaide found that a technique called “mnemonic induction of lucid dreams” (MILD) allowed people to take command of their dreams more effectively than other popular methods. Basically, […]

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SCIENTISTS are claiming to have discovered a foolproof way of allowing people to experience “lucid dreaming” in which they can control their dreams.

Experts from the University of Adelaide found that a technique called “mnemonic induction of lucid dreams” (MILD) allowed people to take command of their dreams more effectively than other popular methods.

Lucid dreaming involves taking control of your dreams

Basically, this system involves waking up after five hours of sleep and then telling yourself to make sure you remember you’re dreaming as you drift off to sleep.

The researchers said the best way to do this is to keep repeating the phrase: “The next time I’m dreaming, I will remember that I’m dreaming.”

Dr Denholm Aspy from the university’s school of psychology carried out a study of 47 people to find that 46 per cent of participants were able to take command of their dreams using this strategy, as long as they fell asleep with five minutes of uttering this mantra-like phrase.

“The MILD technique works on what we call ‘prospective memory’ – that is, your ability to remember to do things in the future,” he said.

"By repeating a phrase that you will remember you’re dreaming, it forms an intention in your mind that you will, in fact, remember that you are dreaming, leading to a lucid dream."

The academic even claimed the lucid dreamers got a good night's sleep.

"Importantly, those who reported success using the MILD technique were significantly less sleep deprived the next day, indicating that lucid dreaming did not have any negative effect on sleep quality," he added.

"These results take us one step closer to developing highly effective lucid dream induction techniques that will allow us to study the many potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares and improvement of physical skills and abilities through rehearsal in the lucid dream environment."

What is lucid dreaming?

Your guide to the phenomenon which lets people take control of their dreams

Have you ever "woken up" in the middle of a dream and been able to control the action?
Then you've experienced a lucid dream.

The term 'lucid dream' was coined by Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden in a 1913 article called "A Study of Dreams", although the concept had been around much longer.

References to lucid dreaming have been found in writings by Greek philosophers including Aristotle, whilst the practice also plays a part in the rituals of some Buddhists and Hindus.

It's believed that mastering lucid dreaming could improve the lives of people who suffer from nightmares, as it could allow them to take control and make their dreams a bit more pleasant.

 

Dreaming that you are flying gives you the opportunity to examine your life from afar
Dreaming that you are flying gives you the opportunity to examine your life from afar, psychologists believe
Getty Images

He also tested out two other techniques, which were less effective.

The first is called reality testing and requires you to "check your environment several times a day to see whether or not you’re dreaming".

This works by encouraging you to get used to constantly trying to discover if you're dreaming, perhaps by giving yourself a pinch whilst at work from time to time.

If you do this all day, then you might end up doing it during a dream and then be able to take control.

Dreaming is a way for us to process the events we have experienced in the last few days
Dreaming is a way for us to process the events we have experienced in the last few days
Getty Images

The other is called "wake back to bed" and involves waking up after five hours of sleeping and then simply nodding off again in the hope of entering a REM sleep period in which dreams are likely to occur.

When using a combination of all three methods, participants were able to enjoy a lucid dream about 17 per cent of the time.

A group of scientists in London recently claimed to have made a group of volunteers experience dream while they are awake. 

 

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Explainers

What is a meteor shower, what causes shooting stars and where’s the best place to watch them in the UK?

FANCY wrapping up warm, settling down under the stars and marvelling at the next meteor shower to grace our skies? Well grab your blanket and get ready to enjoy celestial spectacles with these simple tips… What is a meteor shower? Meteor showers take place when space rocks, also known as meteoroids, enter the earth’s atmosphere. […]

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FANCY wrapping up warm, settling down under the stars and marvelling at the next meteor shower to grace our skies?

Well grab your blanket and get ready to enjoy celestial spectacles with these simple tips…

Taxi - Getty
The streaks of light you can see are caused by tiny bits of rock entering the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up[/caption]

What is a meteor shower?

Meteor showers take place when space rocks, also known as meteoroids, enter the earth’s atmosphere.

When there are numerous rocks at the same time, this is known as a meteor shower.

Meteoroids are often so small they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, so there is little chance of a collision.

Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the rocks appear to be coming from.

 The Perseid Meteor Shower seen over The Scorhill Stone Circle in Dartmoor, Devon
The Perseid Meteor Shower seen over The Scorhill Stone Circle in Dartmoor, Devon
SWNS

What causes shooting stars?

Shooting stars, also known as falling stars, have nothing to do with stars, despite their name.

The streaks of light you can see are actually caused by tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids entering the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

As a rock falls towards earth, resistance of the air on the meteor makes it hot and air around it glows – which has led to them being known as shooting stars.

They often appear with a streak of light behind them, caused by the remains of the super-heated rock burning up as the meteoroid falls to Earth.

Getty - Contributor
Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the rocks appear to be coming from[/caption]

How can you watch a meteor shower?

Meteor showers can be spectacular to observe and, thankfully for amateur astronomers, often can be predictable.

Keep an eye on the upcoming dates, and hope for the right conditions during the event.

Meteor showers happen all year round, and usually November is a particularly active time for spotting the celestial display.

The darker location you visit, the brighter the meteors will appear in the sky.

 The annual Perseid Meteor shower over St Hubert's Church, Idsworth, in Hampshire - in 2016
The annual Perseid Meteor shower over St Hubert’s Church, Idsworth, in Hampshire – in 2016
Picture Exclusive

Check the lunar calendar before the event, as if the moon is too bright during its full or gibbous phase, it may obscure the view.

With all meteor showers, dry, clear skies is key so people are advised to check with the Met Office for the latest weather reports and find out the best times.

When trying to observe the showers, always look towards the radiant (where the meteor originates), and a constellation chart can help determine this.

The shower is usually named after the radiant constellation.

Most meteors can be seen with the naked eye, so don’t worry if you don’t have expensive equipment, but binoculars and telescopes can help you get a closer look if you wish.

 These pictures were taken in Northumberland in August 2016, when one meteor shower took place
This picture was taken in Northumberland in August 2016, when one meteor shower took place
GEOFF ROBINSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Where’s the best place to watch meteor showers in the UK?

It’s advisable to take a trip out of your city to find somewhere more remote as this will prevent the experience from being ruined by artificial lights.

Find a wide, open spot so you have a completely unobstructed view with no buildings or trees.

Places such as the Peak District, Lake District, South Downs national park, Exmoor national park, Snowdonia national park are popular choices.

With meteor showers you must be prepared to wait, so star gazers are advised to bring something to sit or lie down on.

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Explainers

Orionid meteor shower 2017 peaks TONIGHT! Here’s how to watch the shooting stars in the UK

DESCRIBED by Nasa as “one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year”, the Orionid meteor shower is doubtless one of the most impressive events in the celestial calendar. Here’s how you can set yourself up with the best chance of seeing falling Orionids – and what causes the shower. When is the Orionid meteor […]

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DESCRIBED by Nasa as “one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year”, the Orionid meteor shower is doubtless one of the most impressive events in the celestial calendar.

Here’s how you can set yourself up with the best chance of seeing falling Orionids – and what causes the shower.

Orionid meteors will peak around October 20, when as many as 20 per hour will be visible to the naked eye
Getty - Contributor

When is the Orionid meteor shower? When does it peak?

The Orionid meteor shower is an annual treat for stargazers, and one of the brightest showers in the celestial calendar.

This year, you’ll be able to see Orionids between October 2 and November 7, but the shower will peak between Friday, October 20 and Sunday, October 22.

The meteors will be the brightest and most visible over the coming days, with the space rocks hurtling earthwards at speeds of up to 148,000 miles per hour.

During the shower’s peak, you’ll be able to see up to 20 meteors every hour, with the Orionid count peaking at 80 meteors per hour in previous years.

Orionids are visible as they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere – and are made distinctive by their long streak
Getty - Contributor

Where is the best place in the UK to watch the Orionid meteor shower?

Falling Orionids will be visible to the naked eye from almost anywhere in the country, but the shooting stars will be much easier to see if you’re away from town and city lights.

The best times to watch the shower will be just after midnight and just ahead of dawn, and you should aim to settle in a dark, rural viewing spot around 20 minutes before to let your eyes adjust.

Also, remember to wrap up warm before heading out to stargaze in the middle of the night.

And bear in mind that you won’t need binoculars or telescopes, since they’re only useful for stationary objects.

The shower will be most visible from rural areas where there is no light pollution
PA:Press Association

What causes the Orionid meteor shower?

The Orionid shower occurs as the earth moves through a cloud of thousands and thousands of clumps of space rock.

Although the rocks are fragments of Halley’s Comet, which itself is visible from earth once every 75 years, they look as if they are coming from the Orion constellation, hence the name.

These meteors burn up as they enter the earth’s atmosphere, giving them their light.

The Met Office said: “The Orionids are a remnant of Comet Halley and at its peak you could see up to 20 shooting stars per hour.

“Orionid meteors are known to be very fast travelling at around 41 miles per second, and typically on the faint side, although with clear, dark skies you still have a good chance of spotting one with its persistent, long trail.

“The Orionid meteor shower is named as such because it appears to radiate from the constellation Orion, which is one of the most visible and recognisable in the sky throughout the world. ”

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