October 24, 2017

AstroEvent: The Geminids Round Out 2011.

2011 has been quite a year, both terrestrial and otherwise. This week sees the last of the big scheduled astronomical happenings of the year in the form of the Geminid meteor shower. This shower is one of the yearly standbys along with the Perseids that are always sure to produce. The Geminids have a long peak centered on the morning of December 14th when an idealized Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of up to 120 meteors per hour may be seen. Problems will arise, however, from an 82% illuminated waning gibbous Moon in the adjacent constellation of Cancer. Rising roughly around 10PM local on the night of the peak, this makes for the worst possible Moon phase as it’ll be high and bright in the early AM hours, just as the meteor shower is getting into high gear. But as always, I wouldn’t let that stop you from looking! To use a rough sports analogy, you’ll see zero meteors if you do not try.

Moon path and position on the 14th. (Created by author is Starry Night & Paint).

This shower is also unique in that its source isn’t a comet, but an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon. The first asteroid discovered by a spacecraft, namely the Infrared Astronomical Satellite in 1983, there’s a fair amount of conjecture as to exactly what 3200 Phaethon is; is it a true Palladian-type asteroid or an inactive comet nucleus? [Read more...]

Astro-Event: A possible Draconid Outburst?

Path of the Earth through the Giacobinid streams. (Graphic by Author).

A total wild car meteor shower may be just around the bend. The Draconid meteor shower is usually obscure even on a good year, with rates in the 5-10 per hour doldrums. This peak usually occurs on or around October 8th, and passes with nary a notice. This shower has, however, been prone to sporadic outbursts of storm level intensity. 2011 might just be one of those years. [Read more...]

12.06.11: NASA’s All-Sky Sentinel Online.

One of the Droid-like cameras… (Credit: NASA).

“What was that flash in the sky last night?” 24-7, our planet is getting pelted with tons of debris. In turn, astronomers and science bloggers get pummeled by questions of what they saw flashing through the sky. Now, thanks to a new network of All-Sky Cameras put in place by NASA, we may have that data a mouse click away. Recently, NASA unveiled its All Sky Fireball network, a series of four cameras along the Alabama-Georgia-Tennessee border that give continuous coverage of the sky watching for meteors and potential meteorites. [Read more...]

Astro-Challenge: Spot a “Dark Asteroid.”

The path of 10 Hygiea during the month of May 2011.

(Created by the Author in Starry Night & Paint).

This week, the planetary conjunctions continue in the dawn skies, one of the better southern hemisphere meteor showers revs up, and we’ll turn you attention to an asteroid you’ve never heard of, but should have. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Close Planetary Pairing +A Springtime Meteor Shower.

Looking eastward the morning of April 19th with a 5 degree FOV. (Created by the Author in Starry Night).

Where have all the planets gone? Well, with the exception of Saturn, they’ve all been hiding in the direction of the Sun. That’s all beginning to change this week, however, as Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter slip into the dawn sky to join Venus in what will turn into a splendid early morning multi-planet conjunction in early May. [Read more...]

AstroEvent:The Ursa Minorids; a Meteor Shower in the Making?

A new radiant? (Created by the author in Starry Night).

The general impression that most folks have of annual meteor showers is that they are largely static in nature. Long term trends, however, would suggest that they are slowly evolving, with new streams of debris replacing faint exhausted ones. Did our prehistoric ancestors watch the Perseids every August? Are there historically unknown meteor streams out there? What’s the life span on the average shower? This week, we give you what could be a meteor shower in the making; the Gamma Ursae Minorids. [Read more...]

AstroEvent(s): A Conjunction, a Perihelion, a Meteor Shower & an Eclipse…

A Partial Solar Eclipse seen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. (Photo by Author).

   2011 is here; let the astronomy events begin! And a what a busy first week of January it is; right out the gate, we have no less than four significant events to talk about; [Read more...]

Astro-Event: Don’t Miss the Geminids!

Looking Northeast at about 10 PM. (Photo by Author).

   This year, believe the hype; this month’s Geminid meteor shower is a sure bet. This shower is one of the few dependable ‘old faithful’ meteor showers of the year. Peaking on the night of December 13th-14th, this year’s apparition sees a well placed northern radiant rising high in the northeast as the first quarter Moon sets about midnite local. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: the Leonid Meteor Shower.

 

 

Looking East at 3 AM. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

  This week, be on the lookout for the meteor shower that can roar like a lion, but this year will probably meow like a kitten. The infamous Leonid meteors peak on the morning of Wednesday, November 17th. This shower has been known to produce storm intensity outbursts with a zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) in access of +1,000 roughly every 33 years, which last happened in 1999 & 2000. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Wild Card Meteor Shower.

Comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner. (Credit: NASA).

Comet 21P Giacobini-Ziner. (Credit: NASA).

 

   Sure, everyone’s heard of the Leonids and the Perseids, but have you ever stood vigil for… the Giacobinids? Also sometimes referred to as the Draconids, this sporadic shower tends to go unnoticed on most years. Radiating from the circumpolar constellation Draco, the Giacobinids produce a lackluster <5 meteors per hour… so, why the fuss? Well, the Giacobinids have been known to occassionally put on a show approaching 1,000+ storm level activity, most notably on the years 1933, 1946, and most recently, 1998. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: The Perseid Meteor Shower.

 

looking Northwest at about 2AM. (Created by the Author in Starry Night).

looking Northwest at about 2AM. (Created by the Author in Starry Night).

 

   This week sees a yearly summer astronomical event that may be termed “The old faithful of meteor showers;” the Perseid meteors. Other showers are often fickle, on and off events, but the Perseids routinely perform with zenithal hourly rates around 60 per hour or about one swift moving meteor per minute. Like the Mars email hoax, the Perseids also have a knack for generating a media frenzy around August, forever disenfranchising hoards of would be astronomers with promises of “the meteor storm of the century!” every year… [Read more...]

August 2010: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

 Summer Lightning as seen from Astroguyz HQ. (Photo by Author).

   Summer lightning as seen from Astroguyz HQ. (Photo by Author). 

   The sultry days of summer are now upon us, in what’s usually the last of the traditional northern hemisphere summer months. You can almost feel the darkness beginning its slow creep back into our daily lives. Although we continue to operate in “stripped down mode” new Astroguyz content will  still continue to be generated on a bi-weekly basis. Here’s what you can expect coming to an astro-blog near you; [Read more...]

27.06.10: Whitman’s Meteors Identified.

Frederic Church's The Meteor of 1860. (Credit: Federic Church/Judith Filenbaum Hernstadt).

Frederic Church's The Meteor of 1860. (Credit: Frederic Church/Judith Filenbaum Hernstadt).

 

   As the June Bootids ramp up this evening and we brave the swarms of mosquitoes for a chance fireball sighting, consider the following tale. A historical mystery concerning a unique meteor precession has been solved. Recently, the editor of Sky & Telescope Roger Sinnott teamed up with professors and students at Texas State University to solve the mystery of Walt Whitman’s meteors. Their astounding results were recently revealed in the July 2010 issue of Sky & Telescope. American poet Walt Whitman refers to the precession in his poem titled the “Year of Meteors (1859-60.)” in his landmark work Leaves of Grass. This sighting has been popularly mis-attributed to the great Leonid meteor storm of 1833, which Whitman did indeed witness. The shower, however, occurred a full 26 years prior to the mentioned date; also, Whitman, an avid amateur astronomer and sky observer himself, referred to “the strange huge meteor-procession dazzling and clear shooting over our heads,” describing a stately train and not the quick apparition indicative of early morning meteors… just what did Walt see? A major breakthrough came from the art and news reports of the day; several eyewitness accounts describe a sight similar to Whitman’s over the US Northeast on July 20, 1860. Artist Frederic Church also captured a faithful rendition (see above) of just such a meteor procession. Such an event occurs when a large meteor comes in at an oblique angle to our atmosphere, creating a bolide train that can be visible for several minutes. Just such an event was captured on video in modern times over the Teton Range in Wyoming on August 10, 1972. The event can be particularly spectacular if the meteor breaks apart, as apparently happened in 1860. We can also thank Church as a member of the Realist school for depicting the event with such stark authenticity…just think, a few centuries prior, and we would have depicted the bolide with garnishing or a trailing banner! Hats off to Sinnott and the staff and students of Texas State University for an astronomical mystery well sleuthed and solved… just how many other astro-tales are out there in art and literature, waiting to be told?

Will the Leonids Perform in 2009?

This week marks the return of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to orbit for its second to last flight, as well as the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. This is the notorious shower that has produced storm level peaks in access of 10,000 per hour in 1966 and 1833. This storm emanates from material shed by comet 51P Temple-Tuttle, and generally peaks once every 33 years or so around November 17th. Most years, the Leonids are a feeble 10 meteors per hour shower barely warranting attention.

[Read more...]

AstroEvent of the Week, January 3rd-9th, 2009: The Quadrantids.

The New Year and this weekend kick off with a curious meteor shower; the Quadrantids do not hail from a modern constellation. They are instead a reference to the extinct constellation Quandrans Muralis, which occupied the present day location of the intersections of the constellations Boötes, Hercules, and Draco.

[Read more...]

Top Astronomy Events in 2009.

The International year of Astronomy presents several outstanding viewing opportunities for 2009. Here is the Astroguyz short list of highlights for the year. These are our personal +12 best, must see events; we thought that rather than laundry list moons phases and solstices, we would narrow in on some of the best upcoming opportunities;

[Read more...]

Astro Event of the Week; November 3rd-9th: A Taurid Outburst?

Most years, the Taurid meteor shower doesn’t merit a second look; this minor shower radiating from the constellation Taurus the bull usually generates a maximum rate of less than five meteors per hour.

[Read more...]

AstroEvent of the Week: October 20th-26th, 2008. The Orionid Meteors.

Brace yourselves… meteor season is now well underway. Fresh off the tail of the elusive Draconids early this month comes the Orionids, a decent shower emanating from the shoulder of Orion, near the star Betelgeuse. This shower is due to peak the morning of October 22nd, producing several swift meteors.

[Read more...]