Meteor showers can be spectacular, watching streaks of light zooming across the sky.
They can really bring the ‘wow’ factor to night-sky watching!
One of my abiding memories of camping with the Girl Guides is being allowed to sleep outside all night with our bedding rolls tucked inside an orange survival bag and watching ‘shooting stars’ intermingled with the plane landing lights.
This was before I understood what meteors really are.
However, meteor watching can also be cold and boring, especially for the smaller members of the family.
It is guaranteed they will look away just at the wrong moment, and once a meteor is gone it’s gone!
One night astro boy went indoors just minutes before the brightest meteor I have ever seen streaked across the sky.
BBC Sky at Night Magazine reader John Short captured Lyrid meteors above Tyne and Wear, 22 April 2015. John used a Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera and Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens.
Credit: John Short
It helps if you can arrange to be meteor spotting on a night that there are other interesting things to watch for too.
Time it right so that even if there are no meteors you will still see the International Space Station moving across the sky, and astro boy will be happy.
There always seems to be other satellites moving past; many so faint you need the keen eyes of a child to spot them.
With a satellite tracking app on your phone you can identify them, too.
Snacks are another good way to keep focus, which is where ‘meteor munchies’ come in.
Tasty enough to keep small astro kids outdoors, try the ‘one munchie for each meteor you spot’ game.
Just like meteors, they are packed with many varieties of space debris, colliding in the Universe of the mixing bowl and fused together by the pressure of small hands helping in the kitchen.
Serve them in a plastic cup, wrap yourselves in sleeping bags on the sun loungers, sit back and enjoy one of the greatest light shows on earth, and don’t forget to wave to the astronauts as they fly by!
If you have a go at baking Katharine’s meteor munchies pancakes, be sure to share your pictures with us via Twitter and Facebook.
100g soft margarine
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg yolk
50g demerara sugar
175g self-raising flour
150 – 200g ‘space debris’: white or dark chocolate chips, chopped dried fruit, chopped nuts and seeds, small sugar coated chocolate beans etc. according to your taste. Ensure the pieces of debris are chopped small as you don’t want to dominate one munchie with a large chunk of one type of debris!
For this recipe, I’ve used white chocolate chips, dried mixed fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chopped walnuts!
Beat together the margarine, honey, egg yolk and sugar.
Fold in the ‘space debris’.
Roll the dough into small, bite-size balls, bearing in mind they will expand slightly in the oven.
Place them on a baking tray.
Bake for 10 mins until firm to the touch and lightly browned.
Transfer to a cooling rack until cold.
Serve in a popcorn cup or plastic beaker.
Add some extra things to nibble on; dried or fresh fruit, chocolate buttons and popcorn all work well.
Believe in miracles
Don’t forget the hot chocolate!