Orionid Meteor Shower

The Orionid meteor shower is going to peak this weekend, so be on the lookout for meteors in the predawn hours of Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21. Really any time after midnight will be best suited for this, and most meteor showers. You can even keep an eye out for the meteors for the week before and the week after the peak date, just don’t expect peak numbers on any days surrounding the day of the peak.

This meteor shower is expected to be relatively active with an estimated rate of 25 meteors per hour, and there won’t be a moon up after midnight to interfere with dimmer meteors. The radiant point of the meteors is from the constellation Orion. Do you need to know the constellation in order to find the meteors? No you do not since the meteors will be all over the sky, the radiant is the point in the sky that the meteors seem to come from. Of course I have an image showing you what the constellation looks like and where the radiant point is located in case you would like to know.

Showing the radiant of the Orionids at 12am October 21.

This is the second yearly meteor shower created by the well known Halley’s Comet. The other meteor shower every year is the Eta Aquarids in May. The meteors are debris left behind from Halley’s Comet as they enter our atmosphere as we pass through the trail.

Be sure to dress warm and bring something warm to drink while you enjoy this beautiful fall show.

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Tonight (January 3rd) into tomorrow morning (January 4th) is the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. This meteor shower is one of the best meteor showers of the year producing around 100 meteors per hour. Although I must warn that with tonight’s 75% Waxing Gibbous Moon it may drown out some of the fainter meteors. Fortunately the radiant of the Quadrantids is in the opposite part of the sky as the moon, so you may still get some good views.

This particular meteor shower is a bit finicky when it comes. The peak is estimated to be at 2:20am EST on the morning of January 4th, and usually only lasts for an hour or so from the peak time. Another tricky part about it is that the meteor shower prediction time isn’t always right on, so you may have missed it by 2:20am or you may be too early.
The Quadrantid meteor shower is named after an obsolete constellation; Quadrans Muralis, which was located near the constellation Bootes. An easy way to find the radiant for this shower is to look for Ursa Major (The Big Dipper) in the Northeast and follow the handle towards the horizon. You can get a rough view of the radiant by looking in that area of the sky between Ursa Major and Bootes. Although a meteor shower radiates from a certain point you should make sure to keep an eye open for all parts of the sky as meteors can be just about anywhere. 
 Click to Enlarge. Showing the radiant point of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower. This picture shows the sky on the morning of January 4th at 2:30am EST.
Up here in the Adirondacks it’s quite cold tonight, actually the coldest it’s been all winter. With temperatures feeling below zero make sure you are bundled up. If you want to see the meteor shower but aren’t willing to brave the cold there are a few other options for viewing them from within your nice warm comfy home.
View with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
There is also this link to a NASA page which has a list of all sky cam’s you may be able to view the meteor shower from.
Enjoy the show and stay warm!

A Meteor in Pegasus

Tonight I decided to put my camera out in an attempt to do some time lapse photography of the stars. It started off good but quickly became cloudy and not too interesting. Although when going through my images I got to make the video I came across one I really liked. It’s of the constellation Pegasus and going through it is a meteor. I checked for satellites for my location and the time the picture was taken and found none in the area at the time. Not only is there the bright, yet short meteor, but you can also just make out a fuzzy galaxy to the left in the picture. That galaxy is Andromeda, and I was hoping to get it going across the sky tonight. If you’re having trouble spotting Andromeda in the picture look to the left of the picture for 3 stars going up slightly curved. At the top of those three stars you can just make out Andromeda.

Edit: I have just found out that there is a meteor shower from September 25 to December 6 called the Andromedids. The radiant is, you guessed it, in Andromeda which means this short bright meteor is part of that meteor shower. Currently this meteor shower at it’s peak (November 14) is extremely weak with an estimated 3 meteors per hour. These meteors come from associated comet 3D/Biela which broke up and possibly caused a large outburst back in 1872 and 1885. More on the Andromedids here for a more detailed explanation on the meteor shower.

Also something else neat about the Andromedids. In 1885 the first meteor ever photographed was an Andromedid by Ladislaus Weinek in Prague. Info from this link on Google Books, from the book Meteor Showers and Their Parent Comets. The part I think is the coolest is that this is MY first picture of a meteor ever taken, which just so happens to be an Andromedid. Pretty neat stuff!

 Click to enlarge.

Edit: I am now only including the time-lapse from the picture above since having all 3 available here made the blog load really slow.