Perseids in the Skies over Marshall Space Flight Center

A composite image combines about 120 meteor images taken by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. on August 13, 2015.  The majority of the meteors are Perseids. Danielle Moser of the Meteoroid Environment Office compiled the composite image.MAX_20150813_01

Perseids Are Already Appearing in the Huntsville Sky

This composite image shows the meteors detected by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station here in Huntsville, Alabama this morning.   The majority of the meteors are Perseids, but a handful belong to the Northern Delta Aquariid, Southern Delta Aquariid, Alpha Capricornid, and Southern Iota Aquariid meteor showers that are also active.

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This Perseid meteor was observed by the NASA Wide-field Meteor Camera Network in the skies over Huntsville, Alabama on the morning of August 12.

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Perseid Fireball Over New Mexico

This Perseid fireball was observed by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network in the skies over New Mexico on the morning of August 12.

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Meteor Moment: How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

Rhiannon Blaauw, of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office — located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama — shares some tips and strategies to best view a meteor shower.

NASA Marshall to Host Ustream Event About Perseid Meteor Shower August 12; Experts to Answer Questions Online

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Enjoy a summer evening of sky watching as the annual Perseid meteor shower peaks on the night of August 12 through the morning of August 13. Join meteor experts from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for live Ustream commentary during the shower. Perseid meteor rates can get as high as 100 per hour, with many fireballs visible in the night sky

How to View the Perseid meteor shower

The best opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower is during the dark, pre-dawn hours of August 13. The Perseidss streak across the sky from many directions. For optimal viewing, find an open skyline, where you can view the horizon without obstructions, such as buildings or trees.  Try to view the Perseids as far away from artificial lights as possible. The darker the sky, the better viewing experience you can have. Lie on the ground and look straight up. Remember, your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to adjust.

About the Perseids

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Every August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris. This debris field consists of bits of ice and dust — most over 1,000 years old — and burns up in Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere. Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

NASA Ustream: Observe the Perseid Meteor Shower

On Aug. 12, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, will host a live Ustream broadcast about the Perseid meteor shower. The event will highlight the science behind the Perseids, as well as NASA research related to meteors and comets. The broadcast will air 9 p.m. CDT Aug. 12, to 1 a.m. CDT Aug. 13 on the following Ustream channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc

Special guests will include meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw, all of NASA’s Micrometeoroid Office, located at Marshall. They will provide on-air commentary, as well as answer questions online, using Marshall social media accounts. Also scheduled to join the broadcast, via telephone, are experts from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, in Houston; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; the American Meteor Society; the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California; and others.

There are two methods to join the online conversation during the broadcast. NASA followers can tweet questions to “@NASA_Marshall” using the hashtag “#askNASA.” Followers may also post questions on the Marshall Facebook account, replying to the 9 p.m. Aug. 12 Perseid “Q&A” post at: https://www.facebook.com/nasamarshallcenter

The 2015 Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Each spring as Earth passes through the debris trail from Halley’s Comet (1P/Halley), the cosmic bits burn up in our atmosphere and result in the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower. This year the peak will occur on May 6 about 9 AM EDT with meteor rates of about 30 meteors per hour near peak. Best viewing is just before dawn on May 6. Eta Aquarids zoom around the solar system at speeds near 148,000 mph.  Unfortunately for meteor shower observing enthusiasts the moon will seriously hampered viewing of the ETAs this year. reducing the peak rate to under 20 meteors per hour.

The Eta Aquarids are pieces of debris from Halley’s Comet, which is a well-known comet that is viewable from Earth approximately every 76 years. Also known as 1P/Halley, this comet was last viewable from Earth in 1986 and won’t be visible again until the middle of 2061. The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower gets its name because the radiant — or direction of origin — of the meteors appears to come from the constellation Aquarius.

To read more about fireballs, go to NASA All Sky Fireball Network.

An image of an Eta Aquarid meteor from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Tullahoma, Tennessee  in May, 2013.
An image of an Eta Aquarid meteor from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station in Tullahoma, Tennessee in May, 2013.

 

Fireball Reported in Colorado Early this Morning

A fireball occurred over southern Wyoming/northern Colorado at 6:01 AM Mountain Daylight Time. The available eyewitness and video information indicates that the meteor moved from East to West at about 45,000 miles per hour and weighed a few pounds (2 to 4 pounds are the preliminary estimates). The fireball belongs to a class of meteors called Earthgrazers, which hit the Earth’s atmosphere at a very shallow angle. They can travel a considerable distance before getting low enough to completely burn up; the eyewitnesses state that this fireball lasted longer than 10 seconds, which matches grazer durations. No meteorites are expected to have been produced by this event – it was too small and too high to drop fragments on the ground.

The numerous reports are typical of fireballs occurring during morning or evening work commute, and are not indicative of the relative brightness of the meteor.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for spotting a Geminid meteor! The 2014 Geminid meteor shower is forecast to be a lively meteor shower with great views in the skies over Earth. The week of Dec. 8 is a good window for Geminid-watching, but the night of Dec. 13-14 is the anticipated peak. Best viewing will be in dark sky locations, away from city lights.

Geminids are pieces of debris from an object called 3200 Phaethon. Long thought to be an asteroid, Phaethon is now classified as an extinct comet. Basically it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun. Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini. When the Geminids first appeared in the early 19th century, shortly before the U.S. Civil War, the shower was weak and attracted little attention. There was no hint that it would ever become a major display.

On Dec. 13, Cooke and a team of astronomers from Marshall Space Flight Center will host an overnight NASA web chat from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. CDT, answering questions about the Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids are expected to peak just before dawn on Dec. 14, with a predicted peak rate of 100 to 120 meteors per hour.

To join the webchat on Dec. 13, log into the chat page at: https://www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids_2013.html

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Fireball Just Southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama Seen by All Sky Cameras

A bright fireball occurred at 8:18 pm CST, Nov. 20, just southwest of Tuscaloosa, Alabama and was detected by NASA All Sky Cameras. The fireball traveled at 67,000 miles per hour and appears to have broken apart at an altitude of 27 miles. It was as bright as the full moon, about 14 inches in diameter and weighed about 120 pounds.

The fireball was not part of the Leonid meteor shower. At this time, we do not believe any meteorites were produced.

This morning there are over 60 eyewitness reports on the American Meteor Society website.

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Fireball Lights Evening Sky Over Tri-State Area

There was a very bright fireball over middle Tennessee last night, October 20, at 7:57:09 PM CDT. Four NASA all sky cameras, located in Tullahoma, Huntsville, Chickamauga, and North Georgia College, first detected the fireball at an altitude of 54 miles, moving slightly north of west at 47,000 miles per hour. The meteor, estimated to weigh around 10 pounds, travelled some 64 miles through the atmosphere before fragmenting 24 miles above the town of Brentwood, south of Nashville. At its brightest, the fireball rivaled the first quarter Moon, gathering a fair amount of attention in the tri-state area.

The fireball was NOT associated with the Orionid meteor shower, which is currently active. It was moving too slow and coming from the wrong direction.

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