Meteor Alerts

The Arietid Meteor Shower
Global Notes: This shower is equally visible from both hemispheres.

Every year in early June, hundreds of meteors streak across the sky. Most are invisible, though, because the sun is above the horizon while the shower is most intense. These daylight meteors are called the Arietids. They stream from a radiant point in the constellation Aries, which lies just 30 degrees from the Sun in June.

Arietid meteoroids hit Earth's atmosphere with a velocity of 39 km/s (87,000 mph). No one is sure where these meteoroids come from. Possibilities include sungrazing asteroid 1566 Icarus, Comet 96P/Machholz, and the Kreutz family of sungrazing comets. The debris stream is quite broad: Earth is inside it from late May until early July. In most years, the shower peaks on June 7th or 8th.

If you want to see a few Arietids, try looking just before sunrise. The Arietid radiant rises in the east about 45 minutes before the sun. (This is true for observers in both of Earth's hemispheres, north and south.) Pre-dawn Arietids tend to be "Earthgrazers"--meteors that skim horizontally through the upper atmosphere from radiants near the horizon. Spectacular Earthgrazers are usually slow and bright, streaking far across the sky--worth waking up for!

Above: This image shows the area of sky around the Arietid radiant (indicated by a red dot) as seen from mid-northern latitudes at 4 a.m. on June 7th or 8th. A southern hemisphere map is available, too.

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