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Posts Tagged ‘shooting stars’

Quadrantid Meteors Set to Perform on Jan. 4th

December 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Sky & Telescope illustration

Sky & Telescope illustration

Celestially speaking, 2012 opens with a bang. The Quadrantid meteor shower, one of the best displays of “shooting stars” all year, will peak in the hours before dawn this Wednesday, January 4th. If you get up early, bundle up warmly, and find dark site with a wide-open view of the clear sky, you might see 1 or 2 meteors per minute during the shower’s brief but intense performance.

This year the Quadrantids are predicted to climax at 2 or 3 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on the morning of January 4th, and this timing offers very good circumstances for North Americans — especially those in the East. On that morning the waxing gibbous Moon sets about 3 a.m. local time (wherever you are), leaving the sky fully dark until dawn begins before or near 6 a.m.

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/136399178.html

Quadrantids Will Create Brief, Beautiful Show on Jan. 4

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/B. Cooke

The 2012 Quadrantids, a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation, will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching.

Peaking in the wee morning hours of Jan. 4, the Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour, varying between 60-200. The waxing gibbous moon will set around 3 a.m. local time, leaving about two hours of excellent meteor observing before dawn. It’s a good thing, too, because unlike the more famous Perseid and Geminid meteor showers, the Quadrantids only last a few hours — it’s the morning of Jan. 4, or nothing.

Like the Geminids, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, called 2003 EH1. Dynamical studies suggest that this body could very well be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn on Jan. 4 are the small debris from this fragmentation. After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth’s surface — a fiery end to a long journey!

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/watchtheskies/quadrantids_2012.html

Leonids Meteor Shower 2011

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

(Check out Steve Owens’ WordPress site, Dark Sky Diary, at http://darkskydiary.wordpress.com/)

On the night of 17/18 November 2011 the Leonids meteor shower reaches its peak. This annual performer is associated with Comet Temple-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun once every 33 years leaving a trail of debris as it goes. Once a year the Earth passes through this trail, and we see a meteor shower.

This year’s Leonids shower is hampered by the last quarter Moon which sits just to the right of the radiant of the Leonids, in Leo. Despite this there is good reason to observe the shower this year, as the International Meteor Organisation suggest there might be as many as three peaks of activity.

Full Story: http://darkskydiary.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/leonids-meteor-shower-2011/

Weekend Orionid Meteor Shower

October 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Earth is about to pass through a stream of debris from Halley’s comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower.  Forecasters expect more than 15 meteors per hour to fly across the sky on Saturday morning, Oct. 22nd, when the shower peaks.

“Although this isn’t the biggest meteor shower of the year, it’s definitely worth waking up for,” says Bill Cooke of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office. “The setting is dynamite.”

Orionids are framed by some of the brightest and most beautiful constellations in the night sky. The meteors emerge from mighty Orion, the shower’s glittering namesake.  From there they streak through Taurus the Bull, the twins of Gemini, Leo the Lion, and Canis Major–home to Sirius, the most brilliant star of all.

This year, the Moon and Mars are part of the show.  They’ll form two vertices of a celestial triangle in the eastern sky on Saturday morning while the shower is most active; Regulus is the third vertex.  Blue Regulus and red Mars are both approximately of 1st magnitude, so they are easy to see alongside the 35% crescent Moon.  Many Orionids will be diving through the triangle in the hours before dawn.

Full Story: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/20oct_orionids/