Paper Plate Education
Activity: Meteor Shower
Plot the paths of meteors to demonstrate how they appear to originate from a common area, called the radiant.
Meteors from a shower appear to radiate outward from its namesake constellation, such as Perseus or Leo. In this activity you create a sturdy star field on a paper plate. While observing the meteor shower, draw onto the plate the paths of the meteors relative to the stars.
To make starfields for a group of people, tape a star chart that is centered on the radiant onto a paper plate. In this example the chart is centered on Perseus' brightest star Algenib, also known as the navigational star Mirfak. Place the paper plate with the chart on top of a stack of paper plates.
Write the starting and ending times of the observing session. During the meteor shower, plot the paths of meteors onto the plate. At the end of the observing session note the pattern on the plate, which should clearly illustrate the radiant. Note that you may record sporadic meteors as well.
Contributed by Chuck Bueter.
Copyright ©2012 Chuck Bueter. All rights reserved.