2000-Year-Old Meteors to Rain Down on August 31, 2007

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Dark Knight, Aug 25, 2007.

  1. Dark Knight

    Dark Knight New Member

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    The meteors that are about to rain down in the early morning of September 1 date from around 4 A.D., the latest calculations show.


    It is not often that we can tell when a shooting star was first released from a comet into space, to travel as a meteoroid in an orbit around the Sun, and finally collide with Earth's atmosphere to shine as a meteor for our enjoyment. Most meteors that sporadically flash across the sky on a dark moonless night date from anonymous times. Only in recent years have we learned to trace young meteor showers, just a few revolutions old, to their date of origin.


    The oldest such shower, but only one revolution old, is due in the early morning of September 1, 2007. Our calculations indicate Earth is about to cross the dust trail of comet Kiess, a comet that takes some 2000 years to complete one orbit around the Sun. The trail is very narrow, so Earth will be hosed by meteoroids for only about an hour and a half. The meteoroids will approach from the direction of the constellation Auriga, the charioteer, in the north-eastern part of the sky, causing a meteor shower called the "Aurigids."


    If you spot one of those meteors, you may be only the fourth person alive who is known to have seen this meteor shower. In recent times, the shower was spotted in 1994 by two observers and in 1986 by one observer.


    If you are lucky enough to catch a picture of an Aurigid meteor using your digital camera, you will be the very first to do so.


    Tips on how to observe meteors and where to report the results can be found at: http://aurigid.seti.org


    The shower is visible from only part of the world. If you live in the western parts of the USA, Canada and Mexico, including Hawaii and Alaska, you might spot an Aurigid meteor. Plan to step out around 4 A.M. PDT in the early morning, warmly dressed with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders, away from city smog, with the Moon behind an obstruction, and with a wide view on the sky. Gaze up at the sky, waiting, and you may spot one of these elusive bits of matter that Comet Kiess lost 2000 years ago.


    This is your only chance to see this shower; the dust trail is not going to hit again in our lifetime. It is also our best chance yet to test meteor shower prediction models and look for evidence of the crust that a comet is suspected to build up during the time it spends in the Oort cloud. Comets in shorter orbits have long lost this pristine crust.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20070823/sc_space/2000yearoldmeteorstoraindownonaugust312007&printer=1
     
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  3. poco

    poco A cat will blink when struck with a hammer.

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    I'm in Florida, so I guess I'll never get to see one in my lifetime - maybe next time around...........:angel:
     
  4. gaia

    gaia Cat Servant

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    Ditto, only I'm in NC! Pooh!

    gaia:cool:
     

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