Draconid Meteor Shower Peaks October 8

A Draconid disappears behind a tree in this image taken by a Canadian all sky camera (Credit: UWO Meteor Physics Group)..
A Draconid disappears behind a tree in this image taken by a Canadian all sky camera (Credit: UWO Meteor Physics Group)..

The Draconids are an “occasional” shower – they are either in outburst, with a fair number of meteors, or are so few the casual observer would not notice them. Rates this year are expected to be about 10 per hour on the night of October 8 into the early morning of the 9th, most of them faint. The moon phase is favorable for the Draconid peak, so a sharp eyed observer may be able to spot a few during the course of the evening. The faintness of the Draconids is due in part to the fact that they are very slow for meteors, about 40,000 mph. As a consequence, it takes a larger Draconid to produce enough light to be really noticable (the brightness of a meteor is related to both its size and speed), and there are few of those unless the shower is in outburst, which is forecast to happen in 2018.

The next meteor shower is the Orionids on the night of October 21 into the morning of the 22. Rates are predicted to be about 20 per hour, and the gibbous Moon should set by 1 AM, permitting good viewing just before dawn when the rates will be at their highest

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

Perseid Meteor Shower Banner

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

Bright Sky Event Over Southeastern United States – June 29

Meteor across SEComposite image showing bright event located near Rosman, North Carolina.

There was a bright event seen across several Southeast states last night at 12:29:30 AM CDT (1:29:30 EDT). Based on the data we currently have, this object was not a meteor or fireball. Tracked by 5 NASA cameras in the SE, it is moving at roughly 14,500 miles per hour, which is too slow to be a meteor. As you can see in the video, it has also broken into multiple pieces, which, combined with the slow speed, indicates a possible reentry of space debris. There are over 120 eyewitness accounts on the American Meteor Society website (www.amsmeteors.org)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=https://youtu.be/9LgpqyDMu0U[/embedyt]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=https://youtu.be/Vmq9k9hOXDs[/embedyt]

Fireball Over Southern Tennessee

At 8:26:38 pm CDT on Tuesday, Sept. 23, a 2 inch piece of an asteroid entered the atmosphere above the town of Lutts in southern Tennessee. Moving almost due west at a speed of 46,300 miles per hour, it traveled some 52 miles before burning up 25 miles above the Tennessee farmland. At its peak, the fireball was about twice as bright as the planet Venus, and was seen by many in north Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

fireball map

 

Bright, Basketball Sized Meteor in Ontario

Researchers from Western University have released footage of a basketball-sized meteor that was almost as bright as the full moon.

The meteor lit up the skies of southwestern Ontario last week. Astronomers are hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed in the area just north of St. Thomas, Ontario.

Meteorites may best be recognized by their dark and scalloped exterior, and are usually denser than normal rock and will often attract a fridge magnet due to their metal content. In this fall, meteorites may be found in a small hole produced by their dropping into soil. Meteorites are not dangerous, but any recovered meteorites should be placed in a clean plastic bag or container and be handled as little as possible to preserve their scientific information.

More details can be found at  http://meteor.uwo.ca/research/fireball/events/st_thomas/overview.html

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 Credit: The University of Western Ontario

First Observations of the 2013 Eta Aquarids

Despite interference from the moon and clouds (and rising sun!), this morning we snagged our first observations of the 2013 Eta Aquarids.  Here’s an image of one from the all sky camera in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  The Eta Aquarids peak in the pre-dawn hours on May 6 and are material from Halley’s comet.  They zoom around the solar system at speeds near 148,000 mph.  The one seen here burned up completely in our atmosphere over Nunnelly, Tennessee at a height of 58.7 miles above the ground.

(Credit: All Sky Camera Network)

PANSTARRS images

Images were taken by Rob Suggs and Aaron Kingery in twilight through cirrus clouds around 00:36 UT on 17 Mar 2013 with a 14 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope at Marshall Space Flight Center’s Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatoryin Huntsville, Ala.  The detector was a low-light level B&W video camera with a focal reducer giving a 20 arcminute horizontal field of view.  The view shows the over-exposed coma and a faint division in the 2 sides of the dust tail.  The images were not flat-fielded or dark-subtracted.

The darker image is a stack of 60 video frames (2 seconds), enhanced to show the tail. The lighter image is produced by simply stacking 1600 video frames (53.3 seconds).