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11/12/2020 – Ephemeris – The Northern Taurid meteor shower is at its peak

November 12, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, November 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 40 minutes, setting at 5:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:37. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:19 tomorrow morning.

The official peak of the North Taurid meteor shower is here. It’s a broad peak with a low per hour count that appears to be estimated from 5 to 15 meteors per hour. As such it doesn’t hold a candle to the Perseid meteor shower of August or the Geminids of December. However the Northern Taurid shower appears to have quite a few fireballs or really bright meteors. They seem to be most numerous at seven year intervals and the next peak year for fireballs is 2022. The Taurids will appear to come from Taurus the bull near the Pleiades star cluster low in the east in the early evening. Meteors are the streaks in the sky caused by tiny bits of rock hitting the atmosphere at interplanetary speeds and disintegrating.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Finder chart for the radiants of the two Taurid meteor shower for about 11 pm for mid November. The Southern Taurids are ending, but a few may be spotted, while the Northern Taurids are near peak. The peak rate for the Northern Taurids has been estimated by various sources as being 5 to 15 meteors per hour. The Pleiades appears just above the Northern Taurid radiant. Compared to other meteor showers the Taurids appear to be a lot slower. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

08/11/2020 – Ephemeris – Tonight is the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower

August 11, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 8:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:42. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:46 tomorrow morning.

This evening and tomorrow morning we should see the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. There is the expected broad peak of the shower which for us is after sunrise. However the meteoroid stream isn’t monolithic. Each pass of the comet in the inner solar system superimposes its debris on the general stream, so we will have increased activity all night tonight and even into the next few mornings. In general Perseid meteors will be seen to come from the northeast. The evening view will be not hampered by the Moon until it rises at 12:46 am which will drown out the dimmer meteors. The best time to view is from about 10 or 10:30 pm to 12:46 am. The Perseids are the most active meteor shower visible in warm weather, with a possible over 50 meteors per hour.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

My best Perseid photo. From the 70's.

My best Perseid photo. From the 1970’s.

Perseid radiant at 11 pm, August 11th

Perseid radiant at 11 pm, August 11th at the top of the constellation of Perseus, below the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

07/27/2020 – Ephemeris – Two meteor showers, one near peak, another just starting

July 27, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, July 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 9:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:25. The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 1:18 tomorrow morning. | Tonight’s first quarter Moon will hinder the viewing of Comet NEOWISE and the Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower until after moonset at 1:18 am. The meteor shower radiant will start out low southeastern sky and end up in the south as twilight brightens. It is usually during this meteor shower that the first Perseid meteors show up. The Perseid meteor shower is the most watched meteor shower of the year. It’s great every year except when there’s a bright Moon. This year the Perseids will reach their peak hourly numbers on the morning of August 12th after sunrise, unfortunately. The Moon will interfere after it rises at 12:46 am, which leaves two hours of moonless meteor viewing earlier on the evening of the 11th.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Sky Dome at 2 am tomorrow morning

The Sky Dome at 2 am tomorrow morning July 28, 2020 at 2 am. DAqr is the approximate location of the Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower and PerR is the approximate location of the Perseid radiant. Created using my LookingUp program.

Comet NEOWISE in the evening for July 14, 2020 to July 31, 2020

Comet NEOWISE in the evening for July 14, 2020 to July 31, 2020. The horizon is for July 14th at 11 p.m. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Chart).

04/21/2020 – Ephemeris – The Lyrid Meteor Shower will reach its peak after midnight tonight

April 21, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 8:36, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:45. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:58 tomorrow morning.

The Lyrid meteor shower will reach its peak tomorrow morning at around 2 a.m. The Moon will be new tomorrow so it won’t interfere. The radiant point, from which the meteor seem to come is between the constellation Lyra the harp for which they are named with its bright star Vega and Hercules. The numbers of meteors seen in an hour could be between 12 and 20. The Lyrids are caused by the debris left when a comet last seen in 1861, crossed Earth’s orbit as Comet Thacher. Speaking of comets, a new comet named SWAN was discovered a month ago. It was detected by with the Solar Wind An-iso-tropies camera or SWAN aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or (SOHO) spacecraft. We’ll follow Comet SWAN as it approaches the Sun next month.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Lyrids animation

An animation Looking east at 2 a.m. April 22, 2020 toward Lyra, and Hercules with the Lyrid meteor radiant. The named stars are the stars of the Summer Triangle. Click on the image to enlarge.  The meteors will appear all over the sky, but Lyrid meteors can be back traced to the radiant point. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

01/03/2020 – Ephemeris – Astronomical events this weekend

January 3, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 3rd. The Sun will rise at 8:20. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:14. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:49 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 8 p.m. there will be a telescope clinic by the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society at the Rogers Observatory south of Traverse City on Birmley Road for those who have either received a telescope for Christmas or have one hidden away in an attic, to learn how to use it. Bring ‘em if you’ve got ‘em.

Tomorrow morning we’ll see the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower after the Moon sets. The radiant for this shower is near the handle of the Big Dipper, though they will be seen all over the sky. The peak should be around 3:20 a.m. with the possibility of over a hundred meteors visible per hour.

On Sunday at 5 a.m. the Earth will be its closest to the Sun for the year of 91,394,000 miles (147,085,000 km).

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Quadrantid radiant

The location of the Quadrantid radiant at 3:20 a.m. January 4, 2020 for the peak of the meteor shower. Created using Stellarium.

Earth's orbit

The Earth’s orbit, somewhat exaggerated, showing perihelion and the seasons. Credit “Starts with a Bang” blog by Ethan Siegel.

08/06/2019 – Ephemeris – More about viewing the Perseid meteor shower: Meteor trains

August 6, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 9:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:35. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:29 tomorrow morning.

The Perseid meteor shower has to compete this years with the bright waxing Moon, so only the brightest meteors will be visible, However even though this cuts down on the meteors visible, it happens that some of the brightest of meteors leave smokey trains, which can be seen in binoculars. Unlike aircraft contrails which are created the same altitude, meteor trains descend through the atmosphere where the winds at the different altitudes slowly bend and twist the train, tearing it up. The same occurs with any really bright meteor, Perseid or not. So remember to add binoculars to your meteor viewing kit along with a blanket, warm coat, mosquito spray and hot coffee or other beverage.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

These are screen caps from a time lapse video by Australian Phil Hart of a meteor train being torn apart by upper level winds. Credit Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy/Phil Hart.  This was not a Perseid meteor.

The actual video and much more about meteor trains are located here:  https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/catching-meteor-train.

08/05/2019 – Ephemeris – Previewing the Perseid meteor shower

August 5, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:34. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:01 tomorrow morning.

After the Moon sets in the morning hours for the next week and a half the numbers of meteors visible will increase each night. These are members of the Perseid meteor shower of August. The peak this year is expected to be during the morning of the 13th. However by then the Moon will be nearly full. These meteors are the result of debris left along the orbit of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle shed by innumerable visits to the inner solar system. Every year at this time the Earth passes through this trail of debris which intersects its orbit giving rise to the meteor shower. We call them the Perseids, because they appear to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus the hero, which is first seen in the early evening low in the northeast.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Perseid Radiant

The Perseid radiant is located off the highest star in Perseus as it ascends the sky at about 10:30 p.m. The Perseid radiant is circumpolar for observers in northern Michigan. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Swift-Tuttle 1992 plot

The passage of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle through the inner solar system November 1, 1992 to January 30, 1993. The meteoroids shed by the comet on its numerous trips close to the Sun lie close to that orbit. Note that its orbit intersects with the Earth’s orbit. That’s where the Earth will be around August 12-13 every year. Created using my LookingUp program.

 

05/04/2017 – Ephemeris – Bits of Halley’s Comet will fill our skies for the next few mornings

May 5, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 4th.  The Sun rises at 6:28.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 8:51.  The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 4:15 tomorrow morning.

Look out for the Eta Aquariids meteors in the early morning sky for the next few days.  This is like 5 a.m.  These are sand grain sized debris from “Hawley’s” Comet.  That’s the same guy we pronounce “Hayley” or “Hal-ley”.  The authority on the pronunciation is a contemporary of his, Samuel Pepys, who spelled his name H-a-w-l-e-y.   Anyway, this is one of two meteor showers every year that are attributed to Halley’s Comet, where the Earth crosses the debris stream.  The other, the Orionids of late October see the debris stream entering the inner solar system, while the Eta Aquariids, which seem to come from the southeast are the debris stream leaving the inner solar system, and heading back out toward Neptune’s orbit.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Eta Aquarid radiant

The Eta Aquariid radiant at the peak of the shower. The radiant moves slowly to the east with time. Credit: Bob Moler’s LookingUp program.

04/20/2017 – Ephemeris – The Lyrid meteors are reaching their peak now

April 20, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 20th.  The Sun rises at 6:49.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 8:33.  The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 4:20 tomorrow morning.

We are in a period where the Lyrid meteors appear.  This capricious shower peaks at various times and with a variety of peak numbers from 14 to 90 per hour.  The expected peak will be April 22nd at 8 a.m.   The radiant point, from where the meteors seem to come, lies between the constellation Lyra and its bright star Vega and Hercules to the west of it.  The radiant point starts the evening low in the northeast and moves nearly overhead when the Moon finally rises.  The meteors, sometimes called falling stars will appear all over the sky, but can be traced back to that radiant point.  The best time to see these or any meteor shower is when the radiant point is highest in the sky.  That will be Saturday morning.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Lyrid  Radiant.

Location of the Lyrid meteor radiant at midnight. Note that the radiant point is a spot that the meteors can be back tracked to. The meteors will appear all over the sky. If they appear near the radiant they will appear to move the slowest, since their actual motion is mostly toward the observer. Created using Stellarium.

The display of meteor shower radiants is a plug-in in the latest versions of Stellarium.

08/11/2016 – Ephemeris – The Perseid meteors will peak tonight!

August 11, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 11th.  The Sun rises at 6:41.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 8:53.  The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:31 tomorrow morning.

This evening and tomorrow morning we should see the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower.  There is the expected broad peak of the shower which for us is after sunrise.  However the meteoroid stream isn’t monolithic.  Each pass of the comet in the inner solar system superimposes its debris on the general stream, so we will have increased activity all night tonight and even into Saturday morning.  In general Perseid meteors will be seen to come from the northeast.  The evening view will be hampered by the Moon which will drown out the dimmer meteors.  The best time to view is after the Moon sets at 1:31 tomorrow morning until morning twilight becomes noticeable around 5 a.m. when over 100 meteors might be spotted an hour.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Perceid Radiant

The Perseid meteor shower radiant a about 2 a,m, during the period of the shower. Created using my LookingUp program.

Perseid Meteors

Here are some meteors seen in the 2007 Perseid meteor shower taken by Scott Anttila. The image is centered on Cassiopeia. The radiant is low and a bit left of center in the image. The Double Cluster is seen below center and the Great Andromeda Galaxy is seen on the right just above center.

My best Perseid photo. From the 70's.

My best Perseid photo. From the 70’s.