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LIVE METEOR FEEDS: NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office is broadcasting live video from a sensitive all-sky meteor camera at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Tune in here. It's a cozy way to watch the Quadrantids on a cold January night. The shower is expected to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday morning, Jan. 4th. (Check out the live meteor radar, too.)
QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWER: Earth is about to pass through a stream of debris from 2003 EH1, a comet fragment that produces the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak around 07:20 UT (02:20 am EST) on Wednesday morning, January 4th. At maximum, as many as 100 meteors/hour could emerge from a radiant near Polaris, the north star.
Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas, photographed this one on Jan. 2nd:
"Wow! What a really nice fireball," says Emfinger. "It emerged very very close to the Quadrantid radiant, but I'm not 100% sure it is indeed an early Quadrantid."
Even among professional researchers there is a lot of uncertainty about the Quadrantids. Because the shower occurs during the deep cold of northern winter, and because its peak is brief (often no longer than a couple of hours), this strong shower is seldom observed. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office hopes 2012 will be different. "We encourage sky watchers to be alert for Quadrantids and send their observations to NASA using the Meteor Counter app," he says. "With a little help, we just might learn something new about this intriguing shower."
METEOR RADAR: Got clouds? No problem. You can stay inside and listen to the Quadrantids. Tune into SpaceWeather Radio for a live audio stream from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar. When a Quadrantid passes over the facility, you will hear a "ping" caused by the radar's powerful transmitter echoing from the meteor's ion trail.
FIRST AURORAS OF 2012: The first auroras of the New Year appeared over Canada last night. "I was out with some friends when we looked up to see the Northern Lights suddenly blazing away over our heads," reports photographer Jesse Thompson of Inglis, Manitoba. Here is a self-portrait of Thompson enjoying the show:
The display was caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), which tipped south on Jan. 2nd and partially canceled Earth's own north-pointing magnetic field. A crack formed in Earth's magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to flow in and fuel the auroras. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
more images: from Jonathan Tucker of Whitehorse,Yukon; from Joseph Bradley of Whitehorse Yukon; from Andrei Penescu of Kangerlussuaq, Greenland; from Kristy Bruce near Dawson Creek, BC
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs
) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones
all the time.
On January 3, 2012 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids. Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
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| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
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