Aurigid Meteor Shower – astronomy for beginners

I originally wrote “a punt at Astronomy for beginners” because quite honestly nobody knows, either in the amateur astronomy or professional worlds, whether there will be anything to see or not.

So you have just as good a chance as anybody.

The date coming up fast is September 1st, 2007. If all goes well, a flurry of meteors, bright and weirdly coloured could be on its way from the Auriga constellation, putting on a gorgeous early morning spectacle for sky gazers.

The potential source of the Aurigid meteor shower is the remains of a Comet called “Kiess” or numbered C/1911 N1. It’s what’s known as a long-period comet due to the fact that it last visited our honoured planet 2090 years ago! All that’s left of that pre-christian era visit is a trail of dusty debris, slowly drifting back towards our own orbit again. On September the first, the trail of dust should intersect with the Earth and cause particles to enter our atmosphere, creating the show of shooting stars.

The only trouble is, we don’t know what the debris is made of, so we can’t predict how it will behave in contact with the atmosphere. We just know the timing of it, and quite accurately too thanks to calculations made at Mountain View, California – (no, not Google!)

Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute explained that the Aurigid meteor show, if it’s going to happen at all, will peak at around 11:36 UT (4:36 a.m. PDT) plus or minus twenty minutes on September 1st, 2007. The entire show or no show will last for around two hours and should be viewable from California, Oregon, Hawaii and the eastern Pacific Ocean in the United States, as well as other areas in that hemisphere.

Astronomy for beginners would love to hear from anybody who sees a meteor shower on that date – or even if you were watching and saw nothing.

~ by andyroberts on August 24, 2007.

2 Responses to “Aurigid Meteor Shower – astronomy for beginners”

  1. I hope to see something when I take a special trip out to Joshua Tree National Park for this shower. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be posting my astrophotos on Flickr. I’ll keep you guys informed!

  2. ……surprise…..the meteor shower showed on the East Coast… Normandy Beach NJ………reports were of an aircraft spiraling into the ocean…..

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