Find out what’s going on in the night sky. Tellus Astronomy Program Manager David Dundee discusses current and upcoming events in astronomy.
Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
On the morning of May 5 the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is expected to reach a maximum of 60 meteors per hour. Interested observers should look to the south from about 3 AM. to dawn to see this shower. This show should be visible from May 2 through the 8. As with all meteor showers, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is best observed away from city lights under clear, dark skies. Unfortunately, the Moon will be a waning gibbous during this event; thus, so its light will interfere with observations of fainter meteors.
This meteor shower was discovered in 1870 and may have been observed as early as 401 AD. The debris which causes the Eta Aquarid meteor shower may be associated with Halley’s comet.
There will be a partial solar eclipse on May 10 at 6:30 PM, but you have to be in Australia or the South Pacific to see it.
There will be a partial lunar eclipse on May 25 starting just before midnight. This one will happen over Cartersville. But we will see essentially, nothing. This is a very shallow penumbral eclipse which means the Moon just nicks the outer shadow of the Earth. So even with a telescope we observe no change in the Moon.
Low in the west just after dark Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will appear close in the sky on the nights of May, 25, 26 & 27.
Coming soon: South Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower
The South Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower will reach peak activity Saturday night July 28 at about midnight. The Aquarid Meteor Shower will reach peak activity of about 50 meteors per hour. The meteor shower will be visible Saturday, July 25 through Friday, July 29. For best observing results look to the southeast from about midnight until dawn.
This shower is an annual event that occurs when the Earth, in its trip around the Sun, cross the debris path probably of an old comet. The Aquarids were first recognized as a shower in 1870.
This year the Moon will set around midnight, so its’ light will not interfere with this years display.
As with all meteor showers, the Aquarids are best observed away from city lights under clear dark country skies. For more information call 770-606-5720.
Tellus Fireball Camera
Tellus Science Museum is now the latest site to be added to the NASA fireball camera network. This network will eventually grow into 15 cameras across the Southeast which are linked via the internet and automatically filter out airplanes and lighting and other local non-meteor appearances in the sky.
Together these cameras gather data that is combined at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. From this, the height, speed and direction of the meteor can be calculated.
You can even calculate the orbit of the meteor to figure out where in the solar system it came from. In addition, you can find the few objects that might reach the ground (this is rare). We can figure out the probable impact site of a meteorite to about a 1 mile search area.
Just look on the web site each day to check on what’s happening overhead.
Call 770-606-5700 ext. 420 for more information or answers to your astronomy questions.