The Leonids Peak and the Moon May Get Stung!

   Sunday night November 17th the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon will pass by the open star cluster M-44, aka the Beehive Cluster. M-44 is a group of stars, an Open Star Cluster, approximately 160 light years distant, within the constellation of Cancer the Crab. Actually seeing the stars in M-44 may not be possible due to the difference in the apparent magnitude of the Moon (-12.4) and the Beehive Cluster (3.4).
   Over the hours when the Moon is above the horizon it will pass by the Beehive Cluster. From some locations you may be able to see the Moon eclipse some of the stars.

   The Leonid Meteor Shower reaches its peak at 6 UT November 18th which for the U.S.A. Central Time Zone (UT-6) the peak is at 12:00 am CST, (just after 11:59 pm CST on the 17th). This means that for my location Leo and the meteor radiant rise around midnight. And then after the meteor radiant and the constellation are above the horizon the reflected sunlight from the Moon will brighten the sky making it difficult to see any but the very brightest meteors.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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2018 Leonid Meteor Shower

   The annual Leonid Meteor Shower this year will not be a good one for seeing any Leonids as the Moon will be phasing from waxing gibbous into waning gibbous through the peak date, after midnight November 17th (early morning hours of the 18th), and following week. As each day passes the Moon will also be further east and encroaching the skies occupied by the constellation Leo the Lion.
   The Leonids radiate outward from the area of the constellation Leo the Lion most recognize as a ‘backward question mark’ shape. This part of the sky rises after midnight local time.
   Click here to read a previous post about the Leonid Meteor Shower/Storm

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

The 2015 Geminids

   After sunset on Sunday December 13th look toward the east or west for ‘shooting stars’, or meteors. Toward the east the short-lived streaks of light are radiating outward from the area of the Gemini Twins constellation. These are the annual Geminids – one of the best meteor showers each year, and at times rivaling the August Perseids. The Geminid Meteor Shower is named for the constellation that the meteors radiate outward from. This is the same for all meteor showers, and the ‘spot’ in the sky is known as the radiant. The Geminid radiant, as shown in the graphic, is just above the ‘twin’ star Castor, and under ideal viewing conditions an average of about 70 meteors per hour could possibly be seen. This year without the interference of moonlight will increase the chances of seeing the meteors.
   Meteor showers result from the Earth’s orbital path intersecting areas of comet debris. Comets, as they orbit the Sun, leave behind pieces of their icy, dirty, selves. If these debris clouds happen to be along the Earth’s orbital path then the Earth will regularly pass through the comet debris cloud. As this happens the small comet pieces hit our outer atmosphere and vaporize from the friction generated heat. We then see these as the shooting stars that make up meteor showers.
   There are, however, two exceptions to this. The January Quadrantid Meteors and the Geminids each come from their own respective asteroid rather than a comet. The source for the Geminids is Asteroid 3200 Phaethon
   Looking toward the south to southwest and adding to viewing the Geminids is an un-named meteor shower with a radiant just below the bottom of the ‘Square of Pegasus’, between the ‘square’ and the ‘Circlet’ pattern of stars forming the head of the Western Fish of Pisces the Fishes. This meteor shower originates from Comet Wirtanen, a short-period comet orbiting the Sun every 5.5 years. The comet was discovered in 1948 and according to some predictions the Earth may pass through this comet’s debris cloud for the first time since the comet’s discovery. This part of the sky is over the south at sunset and as this graphic shows the radiant is over the southwest as the Geminids radiant is over the eastern horizon.
   
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

One Perseid Down – Many to Go?

   Between 2 and 3 am CDT I took approximately 300 pictures of the sky around the constellation Perseus. During that time I set the camera on Burst mode with the shutter set to a 10 second exposure time at f4.0; ISO 1600, 18mm focal length, and captured what it was like watching the sky for about 25 minutes in a sequence of 152 pictures.
click on animated graphic to see it full size (1040x693)   These were then put into a short animated Gif so I could share the excitement of watching clouds drift across the sky! My viewing luck usually includes clouds as you can see. Toward the end a bright Perseid Meteor streaks above the treetops and at the very end of the sequence the stars start to fade out as dew collects on the camera lens.

  Using the Freeware StarTrails software I stacked the 152 pictures so they would show the effect of Earth rotation. The North Celestial Pole is toward the left side so the star trails are a bit more circular in shape then those toward the right side of the picture.

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

A Tale of Two Showers

13 December - 10 pm CST

13 December – 10 pm CST

   After sunset on Thursday December 13th look toward the east or west for ‘shooting stars’, or meteors. Toward the east the short-lived streaks of light are radiating outward from the area of the Gemini Twins constellation. These are the annual Geminids – one of the best meteor showers each year, and at times rivaling the August Perseids. The Geminid Meteor Shower is named for the constellation that the meteors radiate outward from. This is the same for all meteor showers, and the ‘spot’ in the sky is known as the radiant. The Geminid radiant, as shown in the graphic, is just above the ‘twin’ star Castor, and under ideal viewing conditions an average of about 70 meteors per hour could possibly be seen. This year without the interference of moonlight will increase the chances of seeing the meteors.
   Meteor showers result from the Earth’s orbital path intersecting areas of comet debris. Comets, as they orbit the Sun, leave behind pieces of their icy, dirty, selves. If these debris clouds happen to be along the Earth’s orbital path then the Earth will regularly pass through the comet debris cloud. As this happens the small comet pieces hit our outer atmosphere and vaporize from the friction generated heat. We then see these as the shooting stars that make up meteor showers.
   There are, however, two exceptions to this. The January Quadrantid Meteors and the Geminids each come from their own respective asteroid rather than a comet. The source for the Geminids is Asteroid 3200 Phaethon
Un-named Meteor Shower   Looking toward the south to southwest and adding to viewing the Geminids is an un-named meteor shower with a radiant just below the bottom of the ‘Square of Pegasus’, between the ‘square’ and the ‘Circlet’ pattern of stars forming the head of the Western Fish of Pisces the Fishes. This meteor shower originates from Comet Wirtanen, a short-period comet orbiting the Sun every 5.5 years. The comet was discovered in 1948 and according to some predictions the Earth may pass through this comet’s debris cloud for the first time since the comet’s discovery. This part of the sky is over the south at sunset and as this graphic shows the radiant is over the southwest as the Geminids radiant is over the eastern horizon.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Here Come the Orinids

Sunday 21 October – 4 am CDT

   The Orionid Meteor shower reaches its peak on the morning of Sunday the 21st. Best viewing is looking toward the east to south part of the sky after midnight and before sunrise. Look for the stars of Orion – most find Orion from the 3 bright stars forming his belt. Look to the left from the belt stars for the bright reddish-orange star Betelgeuse (often pronounced ‘beetle juice’) that represents Orion’s right shoulder. A little further to the left from Betelgeuse is the radiant, the area where the meteors or shooting stars will seem to be radiating outward from.
   All annular meteor showers, like Orionids, and the more well-known August Perseids, are named for the constellation the radiant is located within. Meteor showers are the result of several factors including the reaction between the comet’s dirty, icy surface with the Sun’s radiant energy and the orbital path the Earth and comets follow around the Sun. All comets leave behind clumps or clouds of comet debris, their surface material, as they come closer to the Sun’s heat energy. Some of this comet debris is left along the Earth’s orbital path such that the Earth regularly passes through these debris clouds. As the Earth passes through the debris the small bits of rock enter the Earth’s atmosphere and as they heat from friction and melt they glow briefly appearing as streaks of light. Some meteors leave a bright glowing trail, called a train, for a few moments. The Orionids average around 20 meteors per hour, however this year estimates are that that number may go up to as many as 60 per hour.
   How the number per hour can increase is based on the debris cloud and where the Earth passes through it. The debris is cloud-like in its shape and there are parts of the ‘cloud’ where the particles are more numerous – the thicker parts of the debris cloud. Meteor showers, like the Earth’s orbit are pretty well known so part of the equation for determining the number per hour is based on knowing what part of the debris cloud the Earth will pass through. This year we apparently pass through a thicker part of the debris cloud.
   Hang on to your hat!

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.