Meteor shower and more

 

Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA
Meteor Shower photo courtesy of NASA

Look up to take your mind off 2020 politics and pandemic that still plague us on earth. The sky is endlessly interesting with bright planets such as Venus in the early morning eastern sky and Saturn and Jupiter still a cozy couple in the early twilit southwestern sky.

Now, add to the mix the Quadrantids, an annual meteor shower that has been known to send out from 50 to 100 fireballs an hour. Associated with asteroid 2003 EH1, the Quadrantids were named for the defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis.

The good news in 2021 is that the Quadrantids peak early morning before sunrise Jan. 3. Because sunrise at this time of year in the northern hemisphere is shortly after 7 a.m., the Quadrantids peak time of around 6 a.m. means you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to catch them.

Best plan is to let your eyes acclimate to the darkish sky and look northeast where their radiant (place of origin) will be ascending.

The bad news in 2021 is that the full moon ending 2020 on Dec. 29 (into early morning Dec. 30) is only in its waning gibbous phase. That means the bright, nearly full orb of 81 % illumination, still high in the sky, can outshine the meteor lights.

If you miss the Quadrantids, mark the calendar for the Lyrids meteor shower that peaks April 21-22.

BTW – next three full moons are the Wolf Moon/Old Moon, Moon After Yule on Jan. 28; the Snow Moon/Hunger Moon on Feb. 27 and the Crow Moon/ Lenten Moon/Worm Moon on March 28.

For more meteor shower info visit TimeandDate, Space and EarthSky.

 

 

 

 

 

Sky happenings: Launches and meteors

Launches to Space Station. on TV Photo courtesy of NASA
Launches to Space Station. on TV Photo courtesy of NASA

 

Space events April 16 to 23 make this is a good week to link to NASA and look up.

 

If “Hidden Figures”  rekindled interest in NASA, its launches and its people, now is prime time to see what’s happening.

Beginning at 10 a.m. CT today, April 18, NASA is launching Orbital ATK CRS-7, a cargo mission to resupply the Space Station. Click here for more information and to watch it.

Secondly, very early in the morning of April 20 at 2:13 a.m. CT is the launch of the Expedition 51 crew to the Space Station. Visit launch for information on the Expedition 51 crew and how to watch it on TV.

 

Then, during the predawn hours of April 22 , look up to the north east to spy meteors streaking across the sky. They are the Lyrids which are debris from Comet C-1861 G1 Thatcher near the bright Vega star. Vega is in the Lyra Constellation.

The Geminid meteor shower is greater than the Lyrids but meteor showers are still awesome to see. segment of a NASA photo
The Geminid meteor shower is greater than the Lyrids but meteor showers are still awesome to see. segment of a NASA photo

The Lyrids actually began Sunday, April 16 but they peak early Saturday after Vega is high in the sky well after midnight.

Considered the oldest observable shower, it was first noted more than 2,600 years ago.

A good site for more Lyrids information is Time and Date