Listen to radar echoes from satellites and meteors, live on listener-supported Space Weather Radio.
| || |
ORIONID METEOR UPDATE: Earth is passing through a broad stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Unlike the displays of previous years, however, the Orionids of 2012 have not put on a very good show. Sky watchers have seen, at most, one to two dozen meteors per hour during the peak activity of Oct. 21-22. The shower may be weak, but it's not over yet. Enthusiasts should remain alert for fast, faint pieces of Halley's Comet in the pre-dawn sky on Monday and Tuesday. [gallery] [meteor radar] [reports]
ACTIVE SUNSPOT : New sunspot AR1598 is crackling with C- and M-class solar flares. One of the explosions, an M9-flare on Oct. 20th, produced a bright flash of extreme UV radiation recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
Radiation from the flare sent a wave of ionization rippling through Earth's upper atmosphere, temporarily disturbing the transmission of low-frequency radio signals around Europe and North America. The sunspot has also produced at least one bright CME (movie), but Earth was not in the line of fire.
More flares are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of M-flares and a 5% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
METEOR MAKES LANDFALL: A small asteroid that exploded over the San Francisco Bay Area on Oct. 17th, shaking houses with its sonic boom, might have scattered pieces of itself on the ground. That's the conclusion of Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center. He triangulated data from a pair of meteor surveillance cameras to determine the fireball's trajectory, denoted by the black arrow in the map below:
"The asteroid entered at a [relatively slow] speed of 14 km/s. There's a good chance that a fairly large fraction of this rock survived and fell somewhere around the North Bay," says Jenniskens. "Much more accurate results will follow from a comprehensive study of the video records. Now, we hope that someone recovers a meteorite on the ground."
In the map, red dots represent the surveillance cameras Jenniskens used to calculate the trajectory. The black arrow traces the asteroid's path; 85 km and 39 km are the altitudes of the asteroid at the two ends of the arrow. Jenniskens adds that "39 km is not the end point, but the final bit captured by the San Mateo video camera." The disintegrating asteroid continued beyond the tip of the arrow for a possible landfall somewhere north of San Francisco. Stay tuned for updates on the meteorite hunt.
Note: This was not an Orionid.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]