December 18, 2009 10:21 by scibuff
Although the maximum of the annual Geminid meteor shower has well passed, and despite that the Geminids might not have been as numerous as the summer Perseids, spectacular photos of greenish meteor trails keep surfacing every day. After Wally Pacholka’s breathtaking fireball over the Mojave Desert featured at the Astronomy Picture of the Day, another great shot of the recent meteor shower, this time from Australia, appeared today in the most famous gallery of our universe.
At least 34 meteors are included in this composite image as they rain through Australian skies during the annual Geminid Meteor shower - Credit: Phil Hart
At the end of three days of astrophotography at the Leon Mow Dark Sky Site in Victoria, Australia, Phil Hart captured about 34 Geminids in the composite image above. For two hours, Phil’s Canon 5D MKII set at 3200 ISO kept taking 8 second-long exposures through a 24mm f1.4 lens, all on a Vixen GP-DX equatorial mount. The resulting image is a composite of those 8 second shots stacked against a single 2 minute exposure capturing surrounding stars and the Milky Way through the constellation Orion and Canis Major with Sirius at the top. The image may seem to be inverted to those of us who are used to the sky viewed from the northern hemisphere. Of course, having been taken in Australia, the constellations appear upside down.
December 17, 2009 10:11 by scibuff
At 11:29 GMT on Monday December 14, 2009, Wally Pacholka captured one of the largest fireballs recorded during this year’s Geminid Meteor Shower in Mojave Desert in California. Seen toward the southwest over rock formations near Victorville, California, a more familiar celestial background was momentarily washed out by the meteor’s flash. The background includes bright star Sirius at the left, and Aldebaran and the Pleaides star cluster at the right side of the image. The meteor itself blazes through the constellation Orion. Its greenish trail begins just left of a yellow-tinted Betelgeuse and points back to the shower’s radiant in Gemini, just off the top of the frame.
Monster Geminid Meteor Fireball over Mojave Desert - Credit: Wally Pacholka (AstroPics.com, TWAN)
Many more great pictures capturing meteors of one of the greatest annual meteor shower are available in the Meteorwatch Gallery.
December 14, 2009 10:51 by scibuff
This years Geminid meteor shower have been truly spectacular. Despite the weather’s reluctance to cooperate in many parts of the world, some amazing photos have surfaced. Nevertheless, IMHO, none compare to the photo below taken by Bjørnar G. Hansen in Norway.
Bright fireball in Ursa Major with Aurora Borealis and Mars (middle right edge) - Credit: Bjørnar G. Hansen
In addition to capturing a bright Geminid fireball, Bjørnar also managed to fit Aurora Borealis and Mars (middle right edge) into a single shot.
Although the predicted Geminid peak has passed and the activity will be dropping in the next 24-48 hours, it may be worth spending just one more night outside, as some say that fireballs tend to appear at the end of meteor showers.
For more information about the Geminid meteor shower follow #MeteorWatch, @NewburyAS, @ksastro on twitter. For the latest photos and images, see the Meteorwatch Gallery (and follow @MeteorWatchPix).
December 9, 2009 14:49 by scibuff
This image below is a 4 frame animation of the asteroid 3200 Phaethon by Charles Bell (MPC Code H47). Phaethon is an Apollo Asteroid discovered on October 11, 1983 by Simon Green and John K. Davies examining the data from Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). Phaethon became the first asteroid discovered by a spacecraft.
4 frame animation of 3200 Phaethon (the moving dot to the left of the cross) - Credit: Charles Bell (MPC Code H47)
One of Phaethon’s most remarkable distinctions is that it approaches the Sun closer than any other numbered asteroid; its perihelion is only 0.140 AU — less than half Mercury’s perihelion distance. It is a Mercury-, Venus-, Earth- and Mars-crosser.
Phaethon could be characterized as a comet, except it has been observed exhibiting a coma or tail. Soon after the discovery, Fred Whipple’s observation matched Phaethon’s orbital elements with the mean orbital elements of 19 Geminid meteors. Phaethon thus turned out to be the long-sought parent body of the Geminids meteor shower of mid-December
Unusual orbit of 3200 Phaethon takes it out into the main asteroid belt beyond Mars, and very near to the scorching Sun inside of Mercury's orbit.
Find out more about the origin of Geminid Meteor Shower in an article by Richard Fleet for Newbury AS.
… and don’t forget to lookup between December 12 and December 14 and join the worldwide Meteorwatch!