September 21, 2014

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: 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...]

See the Orionid Meteor Shower at its Peak.

The Orionid radiant. (Credit: Stellarium).

The Orionid radiant. (Credit: Stellarium).

Meteor season is now well underway. About midway between the August Perseids and the November Leonids is an often over-looked shower; the Orionids. The good news this year is the Orionids occur around the morning of October 21st, when the light-polluting moon is only three days past new and thus safely out of the morning sky. Expect to see up to 20-30 fast moving meteors, as was generally the reported case last year. For best results, be sure to watch several hours before dawn, or about 2-5 PM local. [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...]

Astro-Event of the Week: 05.04.09: The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower.

eta

Looking East about 4:30 AM local on the 5th (Created by Author in Stellarium).

This week, the second meteor shower of the season amps up; I give you the Eta Aquarids. This shower has a broad peak over the first half of May, and diligent observers may see up to 10-30 swift moving meteors per hour in the early AM hours. The further south you are, the better.  The radiant is very near the “Y” asterism in the constellation Aquarius, near the star Sadalmelik (Alpha Aquarii) and below the Great Square of Pegasus. [Read more...]

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

 

Quadrantids.
Looking Northeast. (Credit: Meteor Showers Online).

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...]

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

Taurids.

Looking due south, about 2AM. (Credit: Stellarium).

   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...]