Head to the hills for the meteor shower tonight!

Here’s to hoping the Orionid meteor shower puts on a show tonight! Weather permitting, this annual meteor shower will pass through the night sky in the pre-dawn hours tomorrow morning. Those in cities and suburbs will see fewer meteors, but regardless, star gazers should head to the hills (or country) between 1 a.m. and dawn local time Wednesday morning. Peak activity is expected around 6 a.m. Eastern Time.

The Orionids have been quite visible in recent years, with about 15-20 meteors within the peak hours, so find a comfortable spot with as wide a view of the sky as possible, allow about 10 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkeness, and let the show begin. The meteors will come from pretty much anywhere, but supposedly are concentrated around the Orion constellation (you know, the dude with the three-studded belt). There’s really no use for a telescope or binoculars because these things fly too quickly through the night sky to catch them through a lens.

Depending on where you are in the States, it might be a chilly night, so wear extra warm clothes (or bring layers) — even a sleeping bag or blanket would be a good idea.

Enjoy the show! And if you feel so inspired, upload your meteor photos to Gadling’s Flickr pool.

Photo of the Day (12-31-08)

I chose this picture as today’s Photo of the Day for a few reasons. One is because Jeremy Baumgartner took it at Fisherman’s Wharf at Monterey Harbor in California on New Year’s Eve, January 1, 2008. Featuring it today seems symmetrical. In a year that has had so many ups and downs, symmetry feels fitting and the photo exudes a stillness and calm.

With the hoopla around New Year’s Eve and the upset 2008 has brought, there’s a need for calm and the time to consider the stars. If you look above the warm, friendly glow of the sailboats, you’ll see Orion’s Belt. It’s one of the largest constellations and the one that everyone around the world can see. Part of the belt is the three close together vertical stars.

To have your photos considered for Photo of the Day, post them at Gadling’s Flickr Photo Pool.

Zero Star Hotel opens in Switzerland fallout shelter

Oh, Switzerland.

In a subterranean fallout shelter in Sevelen, Switzerland, the Null Stern Hotel, biliing itself as “The World’s First Zero Star Hotel” is preparing to open its crappy, crappy doors.

“Null stern” actually means “zero star,” which is a little relieving. They’re being clever, not insane. Normally, this is a cultural misunderstanding we have with Norway. Maybe we’ve misjudged Switzerland.

The Null Stern Hotel will cost between 6 and 18 euros per night, and includes former bomb shelter facilities, no daylight, slippers, earplugs, communal bathrooms and showers, and a butler (there was one in the photo shoot, I’m not sure he’ll be there when you show up).

We don’t know why they get earplugs.

The Null Stern hotel will open in early 2009, but recently opened up to volunteers for a test run. See the photos here.

What to do in Sevelen? I don’t know. But at least you know there’s a bomb shelter where you can stay. If you can read German, here you go.

GADLING’S TAKE FIVE: Week of October 29

The moment you have all been waiting for has arrived at last. An unforgettable week… The most amazing things in blogging history, right here, now… It’s Gadling’s Take Five!!! A little too dramatic? I agree. Let’s just get to what you missed.

5. Star Locator:
Here’s a gear piece for all camp-loving individuals who like to stare off into starry nights, but have trouble finding popular constellations like Orion’s Belt. Maybe you just want to take a glimpse at Mars… Now you can do so with this handy dandy gadget, but you’ll have to visit this one yourself. It’s really rather cool!

4. On Stebastopol:
I’ve never heard of Stebastopol and if someone had asked me prior to reading this piece I would have told them it was in Estonia somewhere. Who says travel bloggers know it all? Stebastopol is mentioned here by Erik who passed through not too long ago and also mentioned by Outside Magazine. They say it’s one of the great towns to live in… Hmm…

3. Get Paid to Travel to Iran:

Someone please sign me up for this promotion! How bad I want to travel to the country of Iran I cannot say, but it looks as though they are making more efforts to bring tourists from the West on in to show them they aren’t as dangerous as the media makes them seem. Travel agents – encourage people to travel to Iran and you could be making some extra cash.

2. Bad English:
This is a book all of us might want to pick up, because in my mind bad English is everywhere, including in English speaking countries. Get your quick laughs about goof-ups found across the globe, but I urge you to spell check yourself and make sure your grammar is on point. You’ll probably find that some foreigners are better at grammar usage than you. I have from time to time.

1. Most Dangerous U.S. Cities:
Pack a glock if you find yourself headed to St. Louie, Flint, or Detroit anytime soon. These three just ranked tops in most dangerous U.S. cities. Okay, don’t pack a glock or any kind of weapon, but do look at the list to see why all the violence. You may be surprised where your own city ranks.

Searching for Hollywood’s Real Stars

In Los Angeles, the stars are everywhere. They line the pavement on the famous Hollywood Blvd. strip, they sit disguised in overly cramped cafes on Melrose and you can even find them in the eyes of some young hopeful, aspiring actor or actress looking for their chance to appear on the silver screen. However, the hardest place to find stars is straight up in the night sky where you’d expect to see billions. Sigh. Sad, sad, sad… With all the light pollution from the city itself, real star gazing can be a tough hobby to take up in the City of Angels without the use of tools, but there is good news my true star gazing pals.

On Friday, November 3rd, a newly restored Griffith Observatory is set to reopen to the public after four-years of work and expansion. The observatory has long given people the opportunity to view the real stars resting over and directly above the city as well stars over places unimaginable. CNN dishes the details on what Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory now has to offer the public. The Zeiss telescope in the Eastern dome and the solar telescope in the Western dome both remain, but should the night become chilly or you just need to step inside the observatory building, you’ll notice the big, new changes. The building which expanded 40,000 square feet is the house of plenty new attractions which include scale models of planets, exhibits on tides, optics and electricity, and other natural phenomena according to CNN.

It is said that some 7,000 people are expected to swing by the observatory when it reopens next month which is quite heartwarming. It helps me think people are trading in those silly Star Maps (guides for stalking down famous folk) for the real deal.