Lyrid Meteor Shower AND Northern Lights this weekend!!

Lyrid Meteor … sprinkle, photo by Ken Scott Photography

I got an alert this morning that the Kp levels that predict the likelihood of northern lights is at 5 to 6 over the next two nights making the aurora a strong possibility for much of Michigan. Lots about the northern lights on Michigan in Pictures.

Now let’s add into the mix the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower. It’s a more variable shower than the Perseid or Leonid showers, but it has still produced some impressive showers in the past AND we are blessed with a waxing moon that will make viewing a lot better. EarthSky shares:

The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend! It’s active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2018, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from the waxing moon.

No matter where you are on Earth, expect the greatest number of meteors to fall during the few hours before dawn.

In a moonless sky, you might see from about 10 to 20 Lyrid meteors an hour at the shower’s peak on the morning of April 22. In 2018, the waxing moon will set before the primetime morning hours. An outburst of Lyrid meteors is always a possibility, too, though no Lyrid outburst is predicted for 2018.

In 1982, American observers did see an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid meteors per hour. Around 100 meteors per hour were seen in Greece in 1922 and from Japan in 1945.

Much more including precise viewing tips at EarthSky!

Ken writes that (back in April of 2016) he shot over a 3 hour period in hopes to catch the meteor ‘shower’ and only caught this one streaker. View his photo bigger, see more in his Skies Above album, and visit Ken Scott Photography to view & purchase work!

Perseid Explosion at Day Farm

Definitely watch Ken’s Perseid video at the end!

D H Day Farm ... perseid meteor shower

D H Day Farm … perseid meteor shower, photo by Ken Scott

I’ve shared this before, but Space.com has an interesting story about how the upcoming Perseid Meteor shower (peak August 11-13) came to be known as “The Tears of St. Lawrence” and also some of the science behind this annual August sky show:

Laurentius, a Christian deacon, is said to have been martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out: “I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.”

The saint’s death was commemorated on his feast day, Aug. 10. King Phillip II of Spain built his monastery place the “Escorial,” on the plan of the holy gridiron. And the abundance of shooting stars seen annually between approximately Aug. 8 and 14 have come to be known as St. Lawrence’s “fiery tears.”

…We know today that these meteors are actually the dross of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Discovered back in 1862, this comet takes approximately 130 years to circle the Sun. With each pass, it leaves fresh debris — mostly the size of sand grains with a few peas and marbles tossed in.

Every year during mid-August, when the Earth passes close to the orbit of Swift-Tuttle, the bits and pieces ram into our atmosphere at approximately 37 miles per second (60 kps) and create bright streaks of light.

Read on for more including diagrams and viewing tips.

Ken Scott captured these Perseid meteors last August over a 2 1/2 hour period at the D.H. Day Farm in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He says that the barn is lit by rogue lightning and that this is a composite of many meteor images, where each photo is rotated around the north star so that the ‘point of origin’ of the shower can be seen better. He understands it visually but not scientifically – anyone have a simple explanation for him?

View his photo bigger, see more in his Skies Above slideshow, and view and purchase his work at kenscottphotography.com.

May’s Eta Aquariad Meteor Shower

Milky Way over Au Sable Point Lighthouse

Milky Way over Au Sable Point Lighthouse, photo by Michigan Nut

EarthSky shares details on this week’s Eta Aquarid meteor shower:

In 2016, the forecast calls for the greatest number of Eta Aquarid meteors to light up the predawn darkness on May 5 and 6. It should be a good year for this shower, with the May 6 new moon guaranteeing deliciously dark skies for the 2016 Eta Aquarids. This shower favors the Southern Hemisphere, ranking as one of the finest showers of the year. At mid-northern latitudes, these meteors don’t fall so abundantly, though mid-northern meteor watchers will catch some, too, and might be lucky enough to catch an earthgrazer – a bright, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky – before dawn.

Halley’s Comet is the source of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Every year, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley’s Comet in late April and May, so bits and pieces from this comet light up the nighttime as Eta Aquarid meteors. This shower is said to be active from April 19 to May 20, although Earth plows most deeply into this stream of comet debris around May 5 or 6.

The comet dust smashes into Earth’s upper atmosphere at nearly 240,000 kilometers (150,000 miles) per hour. Roughly half of these swift-moving meteors leave persistent trains – ionized gas trails that glow for a few seconds after the meteor has passed.

They add that early morning is the best time to see them and that the broad peak of the Eta Aquarids may present a decent showing of meteors during the predawn hours on May 4 and May 7 as well! Read on for more.

View John’s photo bigger, see more in his Starry Nights slideshow and definitely follow Michigan Nut Photography on Facebook!

More about the Au Sable Lighthouse in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Michigan in Pictures!

Perseid Meteor Composite

Perseid Meteor Composite over Cathead Point

Perseid Meteors … over Cathead Point, photo by Ken Scott

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 11-13 and is the closest thing to a sure thing in when you’re talking meteor showers. The Perseids kick out 10+ meteors per hour at peak, and the darker your setting, the more you will see. EarthSky has detailed tips & diagrams about this summer favorite in Everything you need to know: Perseid meteor shower:

Start watching in the second week of August, when the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is rambling along steadily, reliably producing meteors each night. Then keep watching in the second week of August, when the Perseids are rising to a peak. The Perseid shower is known to rise gradually to a peak, then fall off rapidly afterwards. In early August (and even through the peak nights), you’ll see them combine with meteors from the Delta Aquarid shower. Overall, the meteors will be increasing in number from early August onward, and better yet, the moonlight will diminish until the new moon on August 14, 2015.

Don’t rule out early evenings. As a general rule, the Perseid meteors tend to be few and far between at nightfall and early evening. Yet, if fortune smiles upon you, you could catch an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky. Earthgrazer meteors are rare but most exciting and memorable, if you happen to spot one. Perseid earthgrazers can only appear at early to mid-evening, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.

As evening deepens into late night, and the meteor shower radiant climbs higher in the sky, more and more Perseid meteors streak the nighttime. The meteors don’t really start to pick up steam until after midnight, and usually don’t bombard the sky most abundantly until the wee hours before dawn. You may see 50 or so meteors per hour in a dark sky.

An open sky is essential because these meteors fly across the sky in many different directions and in front of numerous constellations. If you trace the paths of the Perseid meteors backward, you’d find they come from a point in front of the constellation Perseus. But once again, you don’t need to know Perseus or any other constellation to watch this or any meteor shower.

Read on at EarthSky for lots more and I hope you get a chance to enjoy Michigan after dark this week – it’s worth it!!

View Ken’s August 2012 composite of 8 meteors taken over an hour at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Cathead Bay bigger, see more in his massive Skies Above slideshow and head over to Ken Scott Photography on Facebook for a Perseids photo from last night!

PS: You can see a timelapse clip from this night on YouTube too!

2014 Perseid Meteor Shower

Sleeping Bear Persied

Sleeping Bear Perseids, photo by Kenneth Snyder

Without question the best meteor shower of the summer in Michigan is the Perseids, EarthSky’s Everything you need to know about the Perseid Meteor Shower has (predictably) all kinds of details and diagrams to help you get the most out of this annual display. The most important thing is to start watching now as the August supermoon is full this weekend.

Every year, from around July 17 to August 24, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent of the Perseid meteor shower. Debris from this comet litters the comet’s orbit, but we don’t really get into the thick of the comet rubble until after the first week of August. The bits and pieces from Comet Swift-Tuttle slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 210,000 kilometers (130,000 miles) per hour, lighting up the nighttime with fast-moving Perseid meteors. If our planet happens to pass through an unusually dense clump of meteoroids – comet rubble – we’ll see an elevated number of meteors.

…The swift-moving and often bright Perseid meteors frequently leave persistent trains – ionized gas trails lasting for a few moments after the meteor has already gone. Watch for these meteors to streak the nighttime in front of the age-old, lore-laden constellations from late night until dawn as we approach the second weekend in August. The Perseids should put out a few dozen meteors per hour in the wee hours of the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13.

Read on for lots more.

View his photo big as the sky and see more in his Sleeping Bear Dunes slideshow.

More meteors on Michigan in Pictures!

First of its kind: Camelopardalids Meteor over DH Day

Cameleopard Meteor over DH Day Barn

DH Day at Night, photo by Rudy Malmquist

Like many, Rudy stayed up really late to see what the new May Camelopardalids meteor shower would deliver. The answer was “Not a whole lot.” One thing they say is that predictions might have been a bot off and they will put on a show tonight. You can read about the whys and wherefores on EarthSky, but I’d like to make a couple of points.

One is that (as you can see from the photo) the skies last night were jaw-droppingly clear, providing some of the most amazing star gazing in recent memory.

The second (and I think the real payoff) is that those hardy folks who stayed up or dragged themselves out of bed saw an the first act of an event that could take recur for millennia. Having a chance to see the birth of something that operates on a cosmic timescale is pretty darned cool!

View Rudy’s photo of the DH Day Barn in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore bigger and see more in his slideshow.

More meteors on Michigan in Pictures!

 

 

The Camelopardalids: A New Meteor Shower for May?

Milky Way Over Twin Lake, photo by Yooper Life Photography

EarthSky has a feature on the possible birth of a new meteor shower in May:

In 2014, an exciting new meteor shower – the May Camelopardalids – might come on the scene. And it’s coming up soon! It’s predicted for the night of May 23-24. This possible shower stems from Comet 209P/LINEAR, discovered in 2004. If the predictions hold true, Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars on the evening of May 23, and the morning of May 24…

The meteors will radiate from the constellation Camelopardalis (camelopard), a very obscure northern constellation. Its name is derived from early Rome, where it was thought of as a composite creature, described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard. Nowadays we call such a creature a giraffe! Since meteor in annual showers take their names from the constellation from which they appear to radiate – and since this meteor shower might become an annual event – people are already calling it the May Camelopardalids.

This constellation – radiant point of the May 2014 meteor shower – is in the northern sky, close to the north celestial pole, making this meteor shower better for the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern Hemisphere.

Click through for lots more about the May Camelopardalis including videos and charts of where to look!

Ken took this photo of the Milky Way over Twin Lake near Grand Marais in 2013. View his photo bigger on Facebook and see more on his Yooper Life Page.

More meteor showers on Michigan in Pictures!