Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquarid meteor shower. In the southern hemisphere, meteor rates are exceeding 20 per hour--an impressive display considering that it is muted by the glare from the nearly full Moon. Observers can look for more eta Aquarids before sunrise on Wednesday, May 6th; after that, the shower will subside. Sky maps: northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere.
The Perseid meteor shower is intensifying as Earth moves deeper into the debris stream of giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Observers with the International Meteor Organization are reporting 20 to 30 meteors per hour from dark sky sites. "Last night, I saw a lucky Perseid strike right through the heart of the Pleiades," says Pierre Girard of Milton Keynes, UK:
The rainbow-colored meteor was about 3rd magnitude--that is, similar in brightness to the stars of the Seven Sisters. Some Perseids are much brighter than that. On Aug. 9th, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded 15 Perseid fireballs over the USA. Fireballs are meteors more luminous than Venus that can even cast shadows on a very dark night.
The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend with 100 or more meteors per hour. The best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Sunday, August 12th, and again on Monday, August 13th. At those times, the shower's radiant will be high in the sky, spewing meteors in all directions. [sky map] www.spaceweather.com
NASA is advising the world to pack up and go hiking on the night of August 11-12 to watch a spectacular shooting star show, as the annual Perseid meteor shower is forecast to beat all records this year.
"Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of August 11-12," Bill Cooke, from NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama, said on Tuesday. Cooke noted that under perfect conditions, we will be treated to up to 200 meteors every hour.
The "outburst" the NASA man is referring to means this year's cosmic dance is set to be far more crowded than usual. The last time the event happened on such a scale was 2009.
The Perseid meteor shower wows spectators with its swift and extremely bright meteors, traveling at a speed of 60km per second. A Perseid meteor is a small piece of debris left in the wake of the ancient Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years. Despite these visits into the inner solar system being so rare, each of them gives off trillions of comet particles. When Earth passes through this trail of debris, the particles enter the planet's atmosphere and break up in bright specs of light.
From down here they seem to fly from the direction of the Perseus constellation, leading to the meteors being given the name "Perseids."
"Here's something to think about: The meteors you'll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago. And they've traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth's atmosphere," Cooke says.
Earth flies through the trail of these comet particles every August, usually grazing the edge of the debris stream. But its trajectory shifts somewhat every now and then thanks to Jupiter's gravity pull, and according to NASA experts this year our planet may be getting a seat in the front row, flying closer to the middle, where there are more particles. In fact, they claim that three or more debris trails will cross paths with Earth in but a few days.
According to NASA, the best opportunity to watch the Perseids will be between midnight and dawn on the morning of August 12. If you're not all that into getting out in the fresh air, the agency has also promised a live broadcast of the shooting star display on its Ustream channel starting at 2am GMT.
The Perseids are no danger to Earth, as even the largest ones mostly burn up in its atmosphere some 80km above the planet's surface. But the outburst could still land spacecraft in a spot of trouble: the bigger particles are capable of causing minor damage to the hulls of rockets and satellites.
Let's hope for the best though, and get the binoculars ready.
Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual eta Aquariid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on the nights around May 5th and 6th with 30+ meteors per hour. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is probably during the dark hours before sunrise on Friday."Although the shower's peak is still days away, the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is already detecting strong activity from the eta Aquariid shower," reports physics professor Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario. The pink "hot spot" in this all-sky radar map from May 3rd shows the location of the shower's radiant (ETA):
"Processing from last night shows more than 200 eta Aquariids with orbits loosely matching that of comet 1P/Halley," Brown says. "The equivalent visible rates are about 40 per hour – almost one per minute! Based on these numbers it is clear that sky watchers are in for a treat over the next few nights."
Got clouds? No problem. You can still experience this meteor shower by listening to it. Meteor radar echoes are being streamed live on Space Weather Radio.
Earth is entering a stream of gravelly debris from "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Forecasters expect peak rates to occur on Dec. 13-14, when dark-sky observers in both hemispheres could see as many as 120 meteors per hour. Observing conditions will be nearly ideal because the shower peaks just a few days after the New Moon. Stay tuned for updates and, meanwhile, listen for Geminid echoes in the audio feed from our live meteor radar.
RT : 17 Nov 2015
© Jali Jarekji / Reuters
Stars outnumber Leonid meteors lighting up the night sky of the desert near Amman.
A stunning fireworks show will be thrown by Mother Nature overnight on Tuesday 17 November, as the Leonid meteor shower sends out a series of spectacular fireballs and shooting stars. The annual lights show contains some of the fastest meteors in existence. "Leonids travel at speeds of 71 km (44 miles) per second, and are considered to be some of the fastest meteors out there," NASA said in a statement.
Skywatchers hoping to see the light show with their own eyes are in luck, according to NASA, which says that a "waxing-crescent moon will set before midnight, leaving dark skies to view these bright and colorful meteors." Those who want a front-row seat should head outdoors at around midnight, local time, says NASA. "Find an area well away from city or street lights...orient yourself with your feet towards east, lie flat on your back, and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible," the space agency wrote online, noting that the show will last until dawn.
But although the Leonid shower has produced tens of thousands of meteors per hour in the past, this year's event won't be quite as remarkable. Viewers should at most expect 10 to 20 meteors per hour, according to Space.com.
The Leonids are created when Earth travels through a trail of debris shed by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. However, since the comet is now just about as far from the sun as it gets during its roughly 33-year orbit, there's not a lot of debris for Earth to collide with - which results in a less impressive meteor shower than previous years.
Those with compromised views due to clouds or light pollution can watch the meteor shower online, via a Leonids webcast hosted by the Slooh Community Observatory, which will take place at 01:00 GMT on Wednesday. The webcast will feature live shots from five different countries on four continents.
David Dickinson : Universe Today : 29 Oct 2015
The motion of the radiant of the Northern Taurid meteors from mid-October through mid-November.
The shower typically peaks around November 12th annually.
Asteroid 2015 TB145 isn't the only cosmic visitor paying our planet a trick-or-treat visit over the coming week. With any luck, the Northern Taurid meteor shower may put on a fine once a decade show heading into early November. About once a decade, the Northern Taurid meteor stream puts on a good showing. Along with its related shower the Southern Taurids, both are active though late October into early November.
Specifics for 2015
This year sees the Moon reaching Full on Tuesday October 27th, just a few days before Halloween. The Taurid fireballs, however, have a few things going for them that most other showers don't. First is implied in the name: the Northern Taurids, though typically exhibiting a low zenithal hourly rate of around 5 to 10, are, well, fireballs, and thus the light-polluting Moon won't pose much of a problem. Secondly, the Taurid meteor stream is approaching the Earth almost directly from behind, meaning that unlike a majority of meteor showers, the Taurids are just as strong in the early evening as the post midnight early morning hours. As a matter of fact, we saw a brilliant Taurid just last night from light-polluted West Palm Beach in Florida, just opposite to the Full Moon and a partially cloudy sky.
In stark contrast to the swift-moving Orionids from earlier this month, expect the Taurid fireballs to trace a brilliant and leisurely slow path across the night sky, moving at a stately 28 kilometre per second (we say stately, as the October Orionids smash into our atmosphere at over twice that speed!).
A 2013 Taurid fireball captured by an All-Sky cam, plus a near-Full Moon.
Ever since the 2005 event, the Northern Taurids seemed to have earned the name as "The Halloween Fireballs" in the meme factory that is the internet. It's certainly fitting that Halloween should have its very own pseudo-apocalyptic shower. The last good return for the Northern Taurids was 2005-2008, and 2015 may see an upswing in activity as well.
Obviously, something interesting has to be occurring on Comet 2P Encke—the source of the two Taurid meteor streams—to shed the pea-sized versus dust-sized material seen in the Southern and Northern Taurids. With the shortest orbital period 3.3 years of all periodic comets known, the Taurid meteor stream—like Encke itself—follows a shallow path nearly parallel to the ecliptic plane.
Discovered in 1822 by astronomer Johann Encke, Comet 2P Encke has been observed through many perihelion passages over the last few centuries, and passes close to Earth once 33 years, as it last did in 2013.
Read more here.
Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters expect meteor rates to peak at 100+ per hour on the night of Aug. 12-13 when our planet passes through the heart of the debris stream. Perseids produce more fireballs than any other meteor shower of the year, so stay tuned for a good show. [meteor radar] www.spaceweather.com
Geminid meteor activity is picking up as Earth moves deeper into the debris stream of rock comet 3200 Phaethon. During the past 48 hours, NASA's network of all-sky cameras have detected 40 Geminid fireballs over the USA. Last night, this one disintegrated inside a Moon halo over the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona:
The sigma Hydrid meteor shower is underway. Peaking every year in early December, this minor shower is caused by debris from an unknown comet. The display in December 2014 may be less minor than usual. Over the weekend NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras detected 9 sigma Hydrid fireballs over the USA.
Sky watchers are encouraged to be alert for fast meteors emerging from the head of the serpent (constellation Hydra) during the hours between local midnight and dawn. [meteor radar] www.spaceweather.com
Mark your calendar: The annual Geminid meteor shower, caused by rock comet 3200 Phaethon, peaks this year on Dec. 14th. On that date, dark-sky observers around the world could see as many as 120 meteors per hour. As November comes to a close, Earth is entering the outskirts of 3200 Phaethon's debris stream, causing a slow drizzle of meteors weeks ahead of peak night. The first Geminid fireball of the season was detected over the USA on Nov. 26th by NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras. www.spaceweather.com
Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Tuesday, Oct. 21st, with as many as 25 meteors per hour. The best time to look is during the dark hours before local sunrise. [full story] [sky map] [meteor radar]
On the night of Oct. 12th, NASA's All-Sky Meteor Network detected a piece of Halley's Comet disintegrating in the atmosphere over New Mexico. The fireball was bright enough to see through the light of a bright gibbous Moon:
Multiple cameras tracked the meteoroid, which allowed a calculation of its trajectory: It hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 68 km/s (152,000 mph) and fully disintegrated 67.9 km above Earth's surface.
This fireball is a sign that the Orionid meteor shower is about to begin. Every year in mid- to late-October, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, the parent of the Orionids. For many nights in a row, pre-dawn sky watchers can see meteors streaking out of the constellation Orion, near the Hunter's shoulder. In 2014, forecasters expect the Orionids to peak on Oct. 21-22 with 20 to 25 meteors per hour.
Stay tuned for updates about meteor activity as Earth approaches the heart of the debris stream.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Sept. 23-24 when a co-rotating interaction region (CIR) is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field. CIRs are transition zones between fast- and slow-moving solar wind streams. Solar wind plasma piles up in these regions, producing density gradients and shock waves that do a good job of sparking auroras. www.spaceweather.com
The Perseid meteor shower is underway as Earth moves into the debris stream of parent comet Swift-Tuttle. According to the International Meteor Organization, the constellation Perseus is now spitting out meteors at a rate of about 20 per hour. In a normal year, those rates would increase 4- or 5-fold as the shower reaches its peak on August 12-13. But this is no normal year. In 2014, the glare of a supermoon will interfere with Perseid visibility, capping visible meteor rates at no more than ~30 per hour. Now for the good news: The Perseids are rich in fireballs, and many of those extra-bright meteors can be seen in spite of the lunar glare. NASA cameras recorded one such fireball last night over Tennessee: (video on: www.spaceweather.com)
Tthe meteor cut through the moonlight wih ease. In the past week, NASA's network of all-sky cameras has recorded nearly 100 Perseid fireballs over the USA, and more are in the offing. So, note to sky watchers: Don't be put off by the supermoon.
A trip to the moonlit countryside on August 12-13 will be rewarded by a display of Perseids, albeit fewer than usual. A good time to look on those nights might be during the hours after sunset when the Moon is still hanging low in the sky and the constellation Perseus is rising in the northeast. Such an arrangement can produce a special type of meteor called an earthgrazer. Earthgrazers emerge from the horizon and skim the top of the atmosphere above the observer, a bit like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond. An hour's watching might net no more than one or two of this special kind of meteor, but that's plenty. Earthgrazers are colorful and gracefully slow, a rare beauty that makes any meteor-watch worthwhile.
Got clouds? You can listen to the Perseids live on Space Weather Radio. www.spaceweather.com
This section is for interesting items which are brought to my attention but which do not merit a separate article.
I welcome your comments, questions or suggestions on any topics you wish to contribute to this section.