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The Sept. Perseids: Sept. 9, 2008

Summary: The September Perseids (not to be confused with the more famous August Perseids) are normally dim and few. The shower produces only 3 to 6 meteors per hour at maximum around Sept. 9th of every year. But on Sept. 9, 2008, the sky lit up with fireballs. Browse the gallery, below, for images of the surprising outburst.

  Photographer, Location Images Comments


Dr. Bill Cooke, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Sept. 9, 2008
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"Our SENTINEL all-sky camera picked up 25 bright meteors in a shower that began at 0620 UT and lasted approximately 4 hours," reports NASA astronomer Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Most appear to have a radiant near Perseus (3.3h, +43o), leading us to hypothesize an outburst of the September Perseids." The September Perseids come from an unknown comet and typically produce no more than a handful of dim meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Sept. 8th and 9th. This is the first time they have been caught bursting in this fashion. Most of the meteors recorded by the NASA camera were magnitude -2 or brighter, i.e., as bright as Jupiter or Venus.

Carl Hergenrother, Tucson, Arizona
Sep. 9, 2008
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My automated sky camera was able to detect over a dozen bright meteors, each one as bright or brighter than the brightest stars in the sky. One meteor was even brighter than Venus and was easily the brightest thing in the sky though for no more than a second. An image of this meteor can be seen to the left. There are few stars visible in the frame because the camera can only see stars down to magnitude +2. The triangle of faint stars near the beginning (left end of the meteor trail) is the west end of the constellation of Cassiopeia. A few other examples of bright meteors can be seen here.

Chris Peterson,
Guffey, Colorado
Sep. 9, 2008
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19 meteors, mostly fireballs, were recorded through slightly foggy skies in central Colorado by a video allsky camera. The radiant is very obvious in the composite image because the shower peak was only about two hours long.