Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Alpha Aurigid Meteors.

The Alpha Aurigid Meteor shower occurs each year between 25 August and 6 September, peaking between 11.30 pm GMT on 31 August and 0.30 am GMT on 1 September. However the shower is notoriously hard to observe, having been recorded only in the years 1911, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1994 and 2007 (some of these observations occurred before the 'official' discovery of the shower by Cuno Hoffmeister and Artur Teichgraeber in 1935, but have subsequently been linked to the shower), though the shower occurs between the New and First Quarter Moons this year, so it may be possible to observe it. The shower has its radiant (the point from which the meteors appear to radiate) in the constellation of Auriga.

The radiant of the Alpha Aurigid Meteors. Copper Mountain Mesa.

Meteor showers occur when the Earth crosses the orbit of a comet or similar body, encountering millions of tiny particles left behind in that body's trail, even if it is not close by itself. The Alpha Aurigid Metoers are thought to originate from the tail of the comet C/1911 N1 (Kiess). This is a Long Period Comet (comet with a period of longer than 200 years), thought to visit the inner Solar System only once every 2497 years, last having done so in August 2011, when it came to about 0.2 AU from the Earth (i.e. about 20% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun). The orbit of C/1911 N1 (Kiess) is highly elliptical, and tilted at an angle of 148° to the plane of the Solar System (or 58° with a retrograde orbit - an orbit in the opposite direction to the planets) and takes the comet from 0.68 AU from the Sun (68% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun, slightly inside the orbit of Venus) to 367 AU from the Sun (367 times as far from the Sun as the Earth, or 20 times as far as Neptune, but within the inner part of the Oort Cloud).

The orbit and current position of comet C/1911 N1 (Kiess). JPL Small Body Database Browser.

See also...


The Perseid Meteor shower lasts from late July to early September each year, and are expected to be at a peak on 12-13 August 2014, slightly after the Full Moon on 10 August, which may make the meteors harder to spot...



The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will be at a peak on Monday 5/Tuesday 6 May 2014, with up to 45 meteors per hour at it's peak, radiating from the constellation of Aquarius. This does not spend long above the horizon in...




The Ursid Meteors are expected to peak on 22 December this year, with the shower being potentially visible to some extent between 17 and 26 December. The extent of the shower is variable, some years...



Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.

No comments:

Post a Comment