Month: May 2014

Camelopardalids – New Meteor Shower/Storm Tonight!!

We will be running through a think dust trail left by Comet 209P/LINEAR. Comet pictured below:Image

 

This is the forecasted debris stream, which excites my spider senses to the umpteenth degree:

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The radiant point for tonights show lies in Camelopardis, the Giraffe. Between 2 and 4am, the radiant point will be in the area below Polaris, the North Star. My best advise is do not look directly at the radiant point. The closer a meteor is to it’s radiant point, the more likely you are to miss it. Look for the meteors, which are forecasted to be long, bright and very slow (in terms of shooting stars) about 90 degrees from said radiant.

Not good with measuring degrees? Turn your index/pointing finger towards the radiant like your hand was an imaginary gun, which your thumb pointing straight up. If you were to keep your index finger pointed at the radiant while twisting your hand around in a circle, any directly your thumb points will be 90 degrees away. A photo of the northern skies is below. Remember, this is an entirely NEW meteor shower. It could be a storm (1000+ per hour) or a dud (just a few). Predictions range, but most agree this could be easily the best showing of the year.

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River of Stars, Bridge of Magpies.

River of Stars, Bridge of Magpies.

Cygnus is one of my favorite constellations. In terms of the night sky, it sort of has the best of all that’s around. It has several deep sky objects (Messier Objects, IC objects, NGC objects) which are things such as nebulas, globulars & open star clusters, galaxies and even asterisms. It also lies on the lane of stars looking inwards towards the galactic plane. This means, through camera, binoculars or telescopes, you are going to see approx. one shitload of stars wherever you look. There are star clusters, supernova remnants and emission nebulas galore. Next to Denab, the brightest (Alpha) star in the constellation and representing the tail of Cygnus/The Swan, is a faint, but visible cloud known as the North American Nebula.

As for asterisms, there’s a couple very notable ones. Cygnus/The Swan is also known as the Northern Cross (Crux) has one such “objects” towards the bottom of the cross (or head of the swan, take your pick), the Coathanger. The stars forming this are in no way related. Most constellations are asterisms (not the Big Dipper though, which is a nearby former star cluster moving apart). It’s defined as a series of stars, not related, that make patterns in the sky. The Coathanger is exactly what it sounds like. One I haven’t seen listed lies in the heart of the constellation, on the river of stars. I like to believe it’s one half of a DNA double helix. It’s a long, stretched out partial spiral viewed side-on/profile.

Oh, so so many stars!

Tonight’s possible meteor shower/storm will be coming from beneath the North Star/Polaris, peak hours begin a shower that will be fast and vicious between 2 and 4am EST. Looking directly from the radiant point will not give you the best viewing options.. any coming from that pint will appear short, if visible at all, to the viewer. Cygnus will be a good area to look for long, slow and bright Camelopardalids. Try facing north but looking straight up towards Cygnus and Lyra, as the will be the optimal distance to catch any of the really good