August 15, 2018

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...]

7.9.09: The September Perseids…an Encore?

   This weeks’ potential astro-event is a total wild card. Last year, automated all-sky cameras and the few dedicated observers that maintained a lone early AM vigil noted a sharp upswing in a previously unknown meteor shower. Informally dubbed the “September Perseids,” this shower appeared to have a brief peak over North America on September 9th and spawned a flurry several bright fireballs over a span of about four hours. The progenitor comet remains a mystery, as does much about this shower…could a new meteor stream be evolving? The only way to know for sure is to watch! [Read more...]

The Coolest Thing I Ever Saw: The 1998 Leonid Meteor Shower

Late 1998 was a busy time for me. As a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force, I was old enough to have some responsibility in the form of supervising my own load crew but still low enough down the totem pole that virtually all of supervision sat squarely above me. I was stationed at Eielson Air Force base in Alaska with the 18th Fighter Squadron as a Aircraft Armament Systems specialist, a fancy way of saying that I loaded bombs. When I wasn’t destroying things, Astronomy was my main passion. Astronomy in Alaska was really a seasonal sport; winter was blistering cold, down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit and summer was constant daylight. This limited dark sky observing to about two month windows around either equinoxes. [Read more...]