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Coming to a Sky Near You! (Maybe)
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Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 2/16
Captain Doom
Picture of Rusty
posted
While the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight (8/12-13 - go out after midnight and look to the northeast, where the shower seemingly appears to originate from Perseus), the Perseids (caused by the dust trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle) are about over this year. Swift-Tuttle has been known since around 69 BC, and has an established period of 133+ years. In fact, at one time, it was predicted to collide with the Earth or Moon in 2126, but recent refinements of its orbit have discounted that danger.

However, a rare and unusual shower is possible the night of 9/1/07. This is the Alpha Aurigids, a shower caused by the trail of a comet (Comet Kiess) with an orbital period of 2000 years. Like the Perseids, named because they seem to originate from the constellation Perseus, the Alpha Aurigids seem to flow from Alpha Auriga, the brightest star in Auriga (The Charioteer), which is more popularly called "Capella", a very bright, somewhat isolated, yellow star which will rise in the northeast at the time of the Alpha Aurigids.

Because the comet whose trail of residue has made only a few passes around the sun, the residue is expected to be composed of hardier particles; the downside is that because of its period, it tends to make quick work of its trip around the Sun, and so leaves a thinner, less-rich, trail of "stuff" compared to shorter period comets (like Swift-Tuttle and Halley - the latter's dust trail causes the Orionids in early October). What this means is that if the shower appears, the meteors should be more spectacular, as they'll burn longer in the Earth's atmosphere than the smaller dust grains of Swift-Tuttle.

Now the question appears, why is this shower erratic, and possibly a non-event this year? That's because the comet's orbit is on a plane that takes it near Jupiter's orbit, and the comet's dust trail is perturbed by Jupiter, and sometimes misses collision with Earth's orbit. However, this year, the Earth's orbit may be well-placed to intersect the residue, and the Alpha Aurigids could be spectacular. Then again, they just might fizzle...but that's the nature of meteor showers.

But if you don't look (the best time is midnight through about 3AM), you won't see it.

An advantage of meteor showers is that they require no astro-gear to see. They're best seen with the naked eye, and the only observing aids needed are a comfortable chair, preferably a recliner, and a source of beverages to keep you awake at these absurd hours.


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
 
Posts: 8201 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Supporting Member of Barthmobile.com 2/16
Captain Doom
Picture of Rusty
posted Hide Post
Bump.

The Alpha Aurigids' possible appearance is predicted to be the night of 8/31-9/1. If it even shows, the number will be less than the "classical" meteor shower, but the meteors have the potential of being more spectacular.

But don't listen to me - I once owned an SOB....Big Grin


Rusty


MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP; built-to-order by Peninsular Engines:  Hi-pop injectors, gear-driven camshaft, non-waste-gated, high-output turbo, 18:1 pistons.  Fuel economy increased by 15-20%, power, WOW!"StaRV II"

'94 28' Breakaway: MilSpec AMG 6.5L TD 230HP

Nelson and Chester, not-spoiled Golden Retrievers

Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not.
In either case the idea is quite staggering.
- Arthur C. Clarke

It was a woman who drove me to drink, and I've been searching thirty years to find her and thank her - W. C. Fields
 
Posts: 8201 | Location: Brooker, FL, USA | Member Since: 09-08-2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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