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!

 

 

2014 Meteor Shower Calendar starts tonight with the Quadrantids

meteor and milky way

meteor and milky way, photo by HLHigham

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014 says that:

Although the Quadrantids can produce over 100 meteors per hour, the sharp peak of this shower tends to last only a few hours, and doesn’t always come at an opportune time. In other words, you have to be in the right spot on Earth to view this meteor shower in all its splendor. The radiant point is in the part of the sky that used to be considered the constellation Quadrans Muralis the Mural Quadrant. You’ll find this radiant near the famous Big Dipper asterism (chart here), in the north-northeastern sky after midnight and highest up before dawn.

Because the radiant is fairly far to the north on the sky’s dome, meteor numbers will be greater in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, watch in the wee hours – after midnight and before dawn – on January 3 in North America and January 4 in Asia. Fortunately, the waxing crescent moon sets soon after sunset, providing a dark sky for meteor watching.

Click through for more and a calendar of 2014 meteor showers. The next shower isn’t until the Lyrids on April 22nd so check them out tonight and early AM on the 4th if you can! You can get viewing tips for the Quads from Universe today too!

View Heather’s photo big as the sky and in her Night Sky slideshow.

Misty Moonrise at Tahquamenon

Misty Moonrise

Misty Moonrise, photo by ShaneWyatt

Here’s a gorgeous shot of the moon rising over the mist of Lower Taquamenon Falls – Shane caught a shooting star too!

View his photo bigger and see more including another night shot at the falls in Shane’s stars slideshow.

Chasing the Perseids at Bond Falls

Chasing the Perseids

Milky Way over Milky Falls with a dash of Perseids, photo by Like The Ocean

“I am beginning to love the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
~Sathya R.

I hope that you had a chance to catch the annual show that is the Perseid Meteor Shower. In Chasing the Perseids at his blog Like the Ocean, Saytha writes:

45 hours on the road with just few hours of sleep, in search of that one spot to capture the Perseids. The lashing rain, the forecasted aurora that never turned up and the hide and seek with the clouds – it was all fun. Was it all worth it, you bet! The road trip took me to one of the darkest skies of Mid Western US – Bond Falls. Would like to share with you a moment in time from that night. This was one of the two meteor I was able to capture on frame, but loved how everything came together in this shot. I do love when a plan comes together :)

The deafening sound of 500 gallons of water / second from 50 feet
The tranquil silence of the dark night
Milky way adorning the skies
A (Perseids) meteor fireball streaking across the horizon
Definitely a moment of serenity and one I would cherish!

Read on at Like the Ocean Photography, check this photo out bigger and see more in his awesome Nightscape slideshow.

More about Bond Falls at Michigan in Pictures.

2013 Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseids & the Milky Way

Perseids & the Milky Way, photo by gkretovic

EarthSky.org’s Meteor Shower Guide explains:

The Perseid meteor shower is perhaps the most beloved meteor shower of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. The shower builds gradually to a peak, often produces 50 to 100 meteors per hour in a dark sky at the peak, and, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, this shower comes when the weather is warm. The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. They radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, but, as with all meteor shower radiant points, you don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower; instead, the meteors appear in all parts of the sky. They are typically fast and bright meteors. They frequently leave persistent trains.

Every year, you can look for the Perseids around August 10-13. They combine with the Delta Aquarid shower to produce the year’s most dazzling display of shooting stars. In 2013, the Perseid meteors will streak across the short summer nights – August 10-13 – from late night until dawn, with little to no interference from the waxing crescent moon. Plus the moon will be near the planet Saturn in the evening hours, giving a colorful prelude to late-night Perseid show. Best mornings to look: August 11, 12 and 13.

Check out Everything you need to know about the Perseid Meteor Shower on EarthSky and also don’t  miss Star Trails, the Perseid Meteor Shower and the Tears of St. Lawrence in the Michigan in Pictures archives!

Greg took this shot in the UP – I’m thinking that’s the Nahma Burner on Big Bay de Noc at the right. Check it out bigger and see more in his stunning Upper Peninsula of Michigan slideshow.

More meteors on Michigan in Pictures.

The Lyrid Shower, Comet Thatcher and the Northern Lights

Superior Bow Selfpic by PhotoYoop

Superior Bow Selfpic, photo by PhotoYoop

The Lyrid Meteor Shower at spaceweather.com explains that:

Every year in late April Earth passes through the dusty tail of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), and the encounter causes a meteor shower–the Lyrids. This year the shower peaks on Saturday night, April 21st. Forecasters expect 10 to 20 meteors per hour, although outbursts as high as 100 meteors per hour are possible.

Lyrid meteors appear to stream from the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra. In fact, Lyrids have nothing to do with Vega. The true source of the shower is Comet Thatcher. Every year in April, Earth plows through Thatcher’s dusty tail. Flakes of comet dust, most no bigger than grains of sand, strike Earth’s atmosphere traveling 49 km/s (110,000 mph) and disintegrate as streaks of light.

Lyrid meteors are typically as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper, which is to say of middling brightness. But some are more intense, even brighter than Venus. These “Lyrid fireballs” cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that linger for minutes.

Occasionally, the shower intensifies. Most years in April there are no more than 5 to 20 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak. But sometimes, when Earth glides through an unusually dense clump of comet debris, the rate increases.

There’s no way of knowing whether or not this would be a big year, but I’d say that with the Iron Lady’s recent passing, there’s a chance! FYI, Comet Thatcher was named by A.E. Thatcher way back in 1861.

Nobody I know caught the Northern Lights Saturday night, but I thought that Cory’s photo taken when he went looking for Lyrids on April 22, 2012  would be the next best thing! Check it out on black and see more in his Space slideshow.

More northern lights and more meteors on Michigan in Pictures.