Tag Archives: meteor shower

A Japanese company wants to sell on-demand fake meteor showers — but scientists aren’t happy

Artist impression of what an artificial meteor shower would look like. Credit: ALE.

The latest venture in the burgeoning field of private aerospace might be fake meteor showers. A Japanese company wants to revamp the whole fireworks experience by offering on-demand shooting stars that light up the sky at a precise location and timing. Some people, however, are concerned that the firey debris might spell trouble for satellites in the same orbit, which happens to be preferred by intelligence agencies.

Artificial shooting stars

Astro Live Experiences, or ALE, plans on firing its first shooting star show in the summer of 2019. If all goes well, a buyer — which can be anyone from a city looking to offer its citizens something different to a wealthy rancher who wants to surprise his daughter — will be treated to a meteor shower lasting a couple of seconds. At the right moment, a spacecraft would eject 15 to 20 small metallic pebbles on command, each less than half an inch wide. The pebbles are made from the same heat shield material that lines the bottom of space capsules, which chars rather than burns upon atmospheric re-entry.

The company is the brainchild of University of Tokyo astronomer Lena Okajima. Initially, it was supposed to be an unconventional opening light show for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but the researchers found they could turn the project into a demand service around the world. While some private ventures, such as SpaceX or Blue Origin, are in the business of sending astronauts, cargo, and even tourists into space, ALE is in the business of entertainment.

In December, ALE plans on launching two microsatellites below an altitude of 220 miles. Each $3-million microsatellite weighs 150 pounds (68kg) and carries 300 to 400 shooting star particles, along with enough propellant for 27 months of operation in orbit. When the fuel runs out, the microsatellite will be burned in Earth’s atmosphere. The ultimate plan is to set up a constellation of six such satellites capable of serving light shows round the clock, almost anywhere on Earth.

But not everyone is following ALE with 4th of July enthusiasm.

“I salute them for cleverness and for their technical expertise, but from an orbital debris standpoint, it’s not a great idea,” University of Michigan astronomer Patrick Seitzer told BuzzFeed News. “I’m concerned space will be getting crowded in low-earth orbit in the next 10 years.”

In their defense, ALE claims it has run simulations releasing particles for every hour a year against the US Strategic Command’s satellite trajectory catalog, finding there was no risk of collision. What’s more, the particles are supposed to fire for only 4-5 seconds before rapidly falling to 37 miles above Earth, which is too low for low-Earth-orbit satellites and too high for experimental balloons.

There are currently only 40 or so official satellites traveling in low orbit below 220 miles above Earth’s surface. There are, however, some orbiting bodies that aren’t listed in the catalog, such as spy satellites. But in the future, this sparse orbit is expected to get crowded — and fast. For instance, Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to put 7,500 new broadband internet satellites in orbits about 210 miles high, just below ALE’s satellites.

The first ALE launch has already been approved by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. If all goes well, the world should get a test of the first artificial meteor shower in 2019.

Texas meteorite Fireball

Massive fireball over Texas caught on film

Texas meteorite Fireball
Hope you guys had a fantastic weekend. If the weather was on your side, maybe you even had the chance to catch some flinging meteors from the Geminids.  One such meteor caused a spectacular fireball over Texas on Saturday and luckily the whole dazzling display was caught on tape by a NASA camera.

The object was caught by one of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office cameras stationed in Mayhill, New Mexico, some 500 miles west of Houston. Eyewitnesses reported that the object was burning in a variety of colors, blue-green or orange or other colors depending on the person reporting. This discrepancy in reporting was most likely caused by varying local atmospheric conditions. Either way, the fireball was simply massive. The video can be found right below.



via BBC

Tommy Eliassen captured this spectacular view of an Orionid meteor streaking through the dazzling northern lights and Milky Way from his camp in Korgfjellet, Hemnes, Norway Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/10/22/orionid-meteor-shower-wows-weekend/#ixzz2A2gUJHRw

This weekend’s Orionids meteor shower in PHOTOS

Like I mentioned last week, this past weekend was light struck by Halley’s comet offsprings in a dazzling feast for the eyes and spirit. The debris from the famed comet, which last visited Earth in 1986, helps produce up to 25 meteors per hour during the Orionid meteor shower. Thus, those lucky enough to be out of the city and with a clear night’s sky have been most certainly happy and grateful for this opportunity. Some have been even luckier and caught glimpses of hurling meteors slicing the sky on photo and film. If you’ve missed this year’s Orionids meteor shower, here are some of these most amazing photos I could find on the web. If you have some of your own or would like to share other photos of this weekend’s Orionids, please feel free to send some our way.

Tommy Eliassen captured this spectacular view of an Orionid meteor streaking through the dazzling northern lights and Milky Way from his camp in Korgfjellet, Hemnes, Norway  Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/10/22/orionid-meteor-shower-wows-weekend/#ixzz2A2gUJHRw

Tommy Eliassen captured this spectacular view of an Orionid meteor streaking through the dazzling northern lights and Milky Way from his camp in Korgfjellet, Hemnes, Norway

Dale Mayotte snapped this photo of a meteor during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower on Oct. 21, 2012, from Clinton township in Michigan.It was Mayotte's 38th birthday, an "excellent present," he said.

Dale Mayotte snapped this photo of a meteor during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower on Oct. 21, 2012, from Clinton township in Michigan.It was Mayotte’s 38th birthday, an “excellent present,” he said.

orionids

orionids

orionids

Photographer Charlie Prince snapped this photo of an Orionid meteor over Edwards, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2012, during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower. He used a Canon PowerShot S5 IS on a Celestron CG-5GT equatorial mount, with settings at F2.7 ISO 400, 64-second exposure.

Photographer Charlie Prince snapped this photo of an Orionid meteor over Edwards, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2012, during the peak of the 2012 Orionid meteor shower. He used a Canon PowerShot S5 IS on a Celestron CG-5GT equatorial mount, with settings at F2.7 ISO 400, 64-second exposure.

Stargazer Kevin Palmer of Brighton, Wisc., captured this image of a faint Orionid meteor (center left, above the tree)

Stargazer Kevin Palmer of Brighton, Wisc., captured this image of a faint Orionid meteor (center left, above the tree).

source: 1;2;3

Orionids

Don’t miss this weekend’s Orionids meteor shower peak

Orionids

Since last Sunday, Halley’s comet offspring have been swirling through the night sky delighting star gazers all around the world. This coming weekend, however, the Orionids will be at their peak and full splendor – your definitely don’t want to miss it!

This time of year, the moon sets at about midnight, which offers more time for catching shooting stars in the darkness. This couldn’t come at a better time for the Orionid meteor shower, which will reach its peak activity in the post-midnight hours of October 21 and 22. Predicting the moment or even the hour where the highest density of meteor debris will enter Earth’s atmosphere is an extremely difficult feat for astronomers, but all the better. It’s the perfect pretext for you and your friends or family to lean back and enjoy the spectacle all night long. Enthusiasm is a great fuel for burning the midnight oil in expectation of the night sky climax.

The shower originates from the Halley comet, and has its name from the constellation in the sky where it’s easiest to spot –  Orion the Hunter. The meteors are particularly fast – swirling at up to 66 kilometres per second – and can be spotted in a yellow or green color, depending on atmospheric conditions. Anyway, be sure to leave the city and head from a spot where the skyline is clear – you don’t need any telescope to enjoy this awesome astronomical event. Just a fine dispositions and great company.

 

Perseid shower peaks this weekend [shorties]

NASA map shows the location of the northern sky where you can watch the Perseid shower in 2012.

In a previous post I was telling you how to make the most of the Perseid shower, and now, it’s time to make the most of that know-how.

Good news for sky gazers in America: drier air should move into the Mid-Atlantic along with decreasing cloud-cover, which will almost definitely make for a good viewing. If you have a good, cloudless, visibility, you can spot up to 80 meteors per hour during the peek of the Perseids. However, after this weekend’s peak, the meteor shower will quickly dwindle, ending likely by August 22.

In 2011, astronaut Ron Garan, Expedition 28 flight engineer, took this picture of a ‘shooting star from space’

How to make the most of the upcoming meteor showers

For people of the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Asia and a healthy chunk of Africa), late July and August is usually meteor viewing season; usually, the most spectacular displays take place during mid August – the Perseids, of course. This year, 2012, will be a fairly good but not spectacular one for meteor showers, as the Perseids coincide with a waning crescent Moon, which although spectacular, will mostly be a nuisance for perspective observers.

The meteor season

Typically, the second half of the year is filled with such meteoric activity, typically observable in the predawn hours, compared to evening, noon and night, due to the fact that during the night we are on the “trailing” side of Earth, due to the orbital motion through space.

Credit: Joe Rao

An interesting phenomena which can be observed is the radiant point; due to the fact that meteor shower particles are all traveling in parallel paths, and at the same velocity, they will all appear to an observer below to radiate away from a single point in the sky. The radiant point is caused by the effect of perspective, just like we see railroad tracks converging at a single vanishing point on the horizon when viewed from the middle of the tracks.

Of course, in order to ‘catch up’ with Earth, any meteoric particle must have a higher orbital velocity than our planet, but after midnight, the roles change, and any particle that lies along the Earth’s orbital path will enter our atmosphere as a meteor.

Viewing tips

Perseid fireball – via NASA

All you need, aside from your eyes, is a healthy amount of patience – you can do just fine without any equipment at all. Of course, taking a look at local meteorological conditions and predictions is a move you must make, in order to see if the sky is clear enough to allow a clear view of the meteor shower. The actual number of meteors an observer can see greatly depends on sky conditions.

Dark, moonless skies are best for observers, but even with a bright moon, an experienced viewer on a clear night will most likely go home satisfied. However, it’s best if your eyes get used to the darkness, which is why it’s best to go out at least 15 minutes before the expected meteor shower. After August 10, the moon will also diminish to a crescent phase and will become less of a disturbance to viewers.

Lyrid meteor shower

The Lyrid Meteor Shower – not to be missed this weekend

Lyrid meteor shower

A moonless night might offer the best setting for the best view of the upcoming Lyrid meteor shower in years this very weekend. The best time to catch it on display will be on Saturday night, although the skyline fireball display is set to rage on well into the following morning.

The Lyrids are somewhat modest in display compared to other meteor showers like the Perseids or the Orionids, but if you’ll be patient enough you’ll be certain to catch some veritable gems.

“Typical hourly rates for the Lyrids can run between 10 and 20 meteors. However, rates as high as a hundred meteors per hour are not uncommon,” said Raminder Singh Samra, a resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.

“On rare occasions there may even be fireballs”—especially bright meteors—”streaking across the sky, too, making it quite a spectacular sight for observers.”

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the trail of dust left behind by a comet; these particles, most no bigger than grains of sand, get caught in the atmosphere and ignite, creating the wonderful spectacle watched by sky gazers all over the world. The Lyrids are thought to originate from comet Thatcher, whose 416-year orbit is nearly perpendicular to the plane of the solar system.

“Like clockwork every year in April, the Earth passes through the particle stream of this long-periodic comet, which last approached the sun in 1861,” Samra said.

“These particles hit our atmosphere while traveling at high speeds and burn up, leaving behind streaks of light”—what we see as meteors.

Look towards the meteor shower’s namesake constellation, Lyra, near the bright star known as Vega for the best chance of gazing shooting stars. As always, if you happen to shoot some footage of event, please feel free to send some over to andrei@zmescience.com – hopefully, we’ll be able to gain enough to publish a photo post, where each individual author will be credited accordingly.

Here’s a video about the Lyrid meteor shower and the April sky.

Sky gazers beware: the 2011 Orionids are almost here

Another meteor shower draws nearer, as scientists expect it to peak this Friday and Saturday – just before dawn on Oct. 21 and 22. Each October, the Earth passes through a trail of dust left behind by the Halley comet; when some of these particles, most no bigger than grains of sand get caught in the atmosphere, they ignite, creating the wonderful spectacle watched by sky gazers all over the world.

The name, Orionids, comes from the fact that the meteor shower seems to emanate from the Orion constellation; this year, they promise to be extremely spectacular, which is exciting especially because so far, this year hasn’t been great in terms of sky shows. The Perseids in August were blocked by a full moon, while the Draconids have been spectacular, but they could be seen in only a handful of places across the globe. There’s even more bad news, as the Leonids meteor shower in November will be (at least partially) obstructed by the moon as well.

“The moon has just decided to wash out the meteor storms this year,” Yeomans said. “They are a subtle phenomena and you really need a dark sky. A bright moon nearby really ruins the show.”

Halley comet to rain down meteor shower tonight

The Halley comet, perhaps the most infamous of them all, will light the night sky in a dazzling display which will be visible for everybody, if the weather permits.

The light in the sky

The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak early tomorrow morning and will probably thrill nightgazers, if we will be lucky enough to have a clear sky. Another good news is that due to its position, the Moon won’t interfere with the meteor shower, like it did with last month’s Lyrid shower.

The Eta Aquarids are meteors created by the bits and pieces left behind by the Halley comet, which travels through the solar system on its 76 year orbit. Technically speaking the display lasts from April 28 through May 21, but tomorrow (May 6) will mark it’s definite peak, at least according American Meteor Society.

“Under ideal conditions (a dark, moonless sky) about 30 to 60 of these very swift meteors can be seen per hour,” advises SPACE.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao. “And with a new moon on May 3 this is one of those years when observing conditions will be perfect.”

The conditions appear to be perfect, and aside from the occasional cloud (or of course, pollution), there should be nothing standing between you and the meteor shower. The Earth passes through Halley’s trail of debris twice a year, once in October, and of course, once in May. but this is only a teaser for when the comet will really pass close to our planet, in 2061.

An infamous comet

The Halley comet is without a doubt the most known of all the short period comets, and it is visible on our planet every 75 or 76 years, which means there’s a pretty good chance you will get to see it – but only once. Still, it is the only comet that is clearly visible with the naked eye, and even though other comets might be brighter, they only pass in front of our planet every several centuries or so.

Astronomers have reported the Halley comet since at least 240 BC, and about two milleniums later, in its 1986 apparition, it became the first comet to be observed in detail by spacecraft, providing extremely important information about the comet nucleus and the ‘metabolism’ and behaviour of the comets.

So skygazers, if the weather is kind to you, go and enjoy this lovely meteor shower, because the conditions this year are excellent; and if you happen to make a picture or two, do be so kind and share them with the rest of us.

Geminids to offer another thrilling night for stargazers

The strangest meteor shower one can observe every year is almost upon us. Geminids is the only meteor shower that isn’t caused by a passing comet, but rather by an asteroid; the meteors are slow moving and pretty bright, making them a perfect target not only for astronomy afficionados, but for everybody who want’s to see a stellar show.

From this point of view, December is indeed a great month – not only can you see Geminids under weather conditions that promise to be good, but you can also witness the only full moon eclipse of the year. The night of December 13 is probably the best one for watching the ‘shooting stars’ (it’s estimated that then the intensity will be at maximum levels) and it promises to be quite a remarkable show, but you should definitely dress way more warmly than usual, and grab a blanket or two. The good thing is that the meteor shower will be so close that no binoculars or telescopes are necessary, but since it will last for a while, perhaps another good idea would be to grab a lawn chair or a sleeping bag (or a girlfriend) – something to keep you comfortable and warm for the 72 minutes when you will be enjoying the show in the sky.

Also, on the night of 20 (and/or 21, depends where you live) is a great one, and if you live in North America, you can go out and see the best lunar eclipse until April 2014. I will get back to you with more details a few days before the eclipse, but for now, you really should prepare for a dazzling display offered by the Geminids.

Photo credits 1 2