Tag Archives: Leonids

“Upstate NY Stargazing In November” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the Upstate NY Stargazing series, “Upstate NY Stargazing in November: The Leonid meteor shower takes the stage,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com.

Direct Links: newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com

Some brief highlights…

The Leonids can be impressive and impressively bright, with up-to 20 meteors per hour expected this year. This shower will be improved by the lack of a Moon in the nighttime sky during the peak. To optimize your experience, lie flat on the ground with your feet pointed towards Leo and your head elevated – meteors will then appear to fly right over and around you.

Using Orion et al. to find the backwards question mark of Leo the Lion.

* With Orion out and about at a reasonable hour, the Orion-star-finder has been brought back from the UNY Stargazing archives (again):

Caption: Orion can guide you around its neighborhood. Red = belt stars to Sirius and Canis Major; Orange = Rigel and belt center to Castor and Pollux in Gemini; Yellow = Bellatrix and Betelgeuse to Canis Major; Green = Belt stars to Aldebaran and Taurus; Blue = Saiph and Orion’s head to Capella in Auriga. Click for a larger view.

* While UNY is predicted to be clouded out this November 13th morning, others will hopefully get to see an impressive conjunction between Venus and Jupiter before sunrise.

A very close pairing of Venus and Jupiter, with Mars and the Moon to boot.

* And, finally, we complete our survey of the circumpolar constellations by explaining just what they are and why they’re excellent first targets for new observers:

A walk through Nov. 1 in 6-hour increments. Focus on the six constellations in the blue circles. Day or night, all throughout the year, these constellations are always above the horizon for NY observers.

“November Stargazing in Upstate NY” Article Posted To newyorkupstate.com And syracuse.com

Greetings, fellow astrophiles!

The latest article in the series, “November Stargazing in Upstate NY: Catch the sometimes roaring Leonids,” has just been posted to newyorkupstate.com and syracuse.com.

This month, we introduce the open clusters using the Hyades and Pleiades, then focus on Cygnus the Swan and finding the small, distant open clusters M29 and M39. Orion, Taurus, and the Pleiades are up all the earlier this month, bringing the best of winter to us just early enough to take in some great telescope views.

This month also includes event announcements for several NY astronomy clubs with posted November observing sessions. I’m hoping to have permissions from several other clubs to post their announcements as well to fill out the within-one-hour’s-drive map of NY public sessions (sadly perfect timing, given that winter often means observing hibernation).

Direct Link: newyorkupstate.com/outdoors/2016/10/…_the_sometimes_roaring_leonids.html

Direct Link: syracuse.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2016/10/…_the_sometimes_roaring_leonids.html


Caption: A 30 second exposure of the International Space Station above Lake Ontario and just past the Big Dipper (left). Photo by Don Chamberlin, member of ASRAS-Rochester Astronomy Club.

NASA Space Place – Where The Heavenliest Of Showers Come From

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. NASA Space Place has been providing general audience articles for quite some time that are freely available for download and republishing. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting in November, 2014.

By Dr. Ethan Siegel

2013february2_spaceplaceYou might think that, so long as Earth can successfully dodge the paths of rogue asteroids and comets that hurtle our way, it’s going to be smooth, unimpeded sailing in our annual orbit around the sun. But the meteor showers that illuminate the night sky periodically throughout the year not only put on spectacular shows for us, they’re direct evidence that interplanetary space isn’t so empty after all!

When comets (or even asteroids) enter the inner solar system, they heat up, develop tails, and experience much larger tidal forces than they usually experience. Small pieces of the original object—often multiple kilometers in diameter—break off with each pass near the sun, continuing in an almost identical orbit, either slightly ahead-or-behind the object’s main nucleus. While both the dust and ion tails are blown well off of the main orbit, the small pieces that break off are stretched, over time, into a diffuse ellipse following the same orbit as the comet or asteroid it arose from. And each time the Earth crosses the path of that orbit, the potential for a meteor shower is there, even after the parent comet or asteroid is completely gone!

This relationship was first uncovered by the British astronomer John Couch Adams, who found that the Leonid dust trail must have an orbital period of 33.25 years, and that the contemporaneously discovered comet Tempel-Tuttle shared its orbit. The most famous meteor showers in the night sky all have parent bodies identified with them, including the Lyrids (comet Thatcher), the Perseids (comet Swift-Tuttle), and what promises to be the best meteor shower of 2014: the Geminids (asteroid 3200 Phaethon). With an orbit of only 1.4 years, the Geminids have increased in strength since they first appeared in the mid-1800s, from only 10-to-20 meteors per hour up to more than 100 per hour at their peak today! Your best bet to catch the most is the night of December 13th, when they ought to be at maximum, before the Moon rises at about midnight.

The cometary (or asteroidal) dust density is always greatest around the parent body itself, so whenever it enters the inner solar system and the Earth passes near to it, there’s a chance for a meteor storm, where observers at dark sky sites might see thousands of meteors an hour! The Leonids are well known for this, having presented spectacular shows in 1833, 1866, 1966 and a longer-period storm in the years 1998-2002. No meteor storms are anticipated for the immediate future, but the heavenliest of showers will continue to delight skywatchers for all the foreseeable years to come!

What’s the best way to see a meteor shower? Check out this article to find out: www.nasa.gov/jpl/asteroids/best-meteor-showers.

Kids can learn all about meteor showers at NASA’s Space Place: spaceplace.nasa.gov/meteor-shower.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Caption: Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / W. Reach (SSC/Caltech), of Comet 73P/Schwassman-Wachmann 3, via NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, 2006.

About NASA Space Place

The goal of the NASA Space Place is “to inform, inspire, and involve children in the excitement of science, technology, and space exploration.” More information is available at their website: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/

Astronomical Double-Header This Week: The Perseids At Baltimore Woods And Stargazing At Beaver Lake

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

The week of the Perseid Meteor Shower is always an exciting one for amateur astronomers, as the Perseids combine high meteor counts (what can be the best for the year) and reasonably warm nighttime temperatures (which certainly keeps the Leonids from being many people’s preferred event of the year). While this year’s Perseid peak happens to fall very close to a Full Moon (or one of those crazy supermoons all the non-astronomical websites like to post about), people are still reporting being able to easily see the brightest fireballs. Those of you heading out on this clear Saturday Night may even see some early shooters a few days before the peak.

It is with this great summer observing event in mind that Baltimore Woods and Beaver Lake Nature Center will be hosting Public Viewing Sessions this week.

1. Perseids At Baltimore Woods, Tuesday, Aug. 12 – 8:30 to 11:00 p.m.

Bob Piekiel is hosting (and other CNYO members will be attending) his yearly session in Marcellus on Tuesday night with Wednesday, August 13th as the weather-alternate. This has been a fun and well-attended event in previous years, with the attendees half-aligned on blankets to the Perseid radiant and half enjoying the views through the attending telescopes. From the official announcement:

The annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the year’s finest, plus Summer Skies and the Milky Way. Look into the heart of our Milky Way galaxy to see the finest examples of rich star clusters and gaseous nebulae. Also fantastic views of Mars and Saturn.


* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

We invite you to enjoy the (hopefully) busy nighttime sky and support Baltimore Woods at the same time!

2. Stargazing With CNY Observers At Beaver Lake, Thurs. August 14

CNYO makes it seasonal return to Beaver Lake Nature Center this Thursday (with August 21st as the weather-alternate) at 8:00 p.m. (usually ending around 10:00 p.m.). From the official announcement:

The CNY observers host an introductory lecture to the night sky, focusing on planets and other objects observable during August and September.  This outdoor lecture will cover some simple ways to learn the constellations, details about meteor showers (including the week’s Perseid meteor shower, observing satellites and the ISS and the ever-expanding description of our own Solar System.  If time and weather permits, some early evening views of Mars, Saturn and Neptune will be had from the Beaver Lake parking lot.

Advanced registration is required for this event (if a critical number does not register, they will cancel the event. It hasn’t happened yet, but don’t take that chance!). See their official event page for more information: events.onondagacountyparks.com/view/160/stargazing-with-the-cny-observers

If you want to help us keep track of attendance, consider adding yourself to our meetup.com group and register for this event at: www.meetup.com/observe/events/200029892/

209P/LINEAR Meteor Shower, Bob Piekiel At Baltimore Woods, And CNYO’s Public Viewing Session At North Sportsman’s Club – All This Weekend (May 23rd and 24th)!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

This coming weekend will be a busy one for CNYO, amateur astronomers, and meteor shower hopefuls alike.

Possible Meteor Super-Storm, Late Night 23rd To Early Morning 24th

Some have already seen the articles over the past several weeks. On the night of Friday the 23rd and into the early morning of Saturday the 24th, the Earth will be passing through the debris field of Comet 209P/LINEAR, a relatively newly discovered comet (2004). All of the predictions reported so far indicate that the meteor shower produced as we go through this debris field (the remnants from the comet’s tail as it goes around the Sun) may be very dense, with some people predicting hundreds or thousands of meteors per hour within in fairly narrow window (perhaps only a few hours). Better still, the meteor shower peaks during a very old Waning Crescent Moon that won’t rise until nearly 4:00 a.m., giving us a good clear night to observe.

Not only might this be a dense meteor shower, but we may be witnessing the arrival of a brand new annual meteor shower to our yearly calendar of showers. If all goes well, you can say you were outside and observing for the first May Camelopardalids!

From the ScienceAtNASA youtube Channel.

Southern Canada and the U.S. are perfectly placed for the densest part of the predicted meteor shower based on the calculation of the comet’s path and our timing as we go through it. Scientists are predicting activity like the 2002 Leonids, which spoiled any observer that year for any other meteor shower in recent history.

Additional info about the 209P/LINEAR Meteor Shower can be found below:
* earthsky.org/space/comet-209p-linear-meteor-shower-storm-may-2014
* www.universetoday.com/111474/may-meteor-storm-alert-all-eyes-on-the-sky/
* www.space.com/25768-new-meteor-shower-comet-linear.html

At present, you’ve two Public Viewing Sessions to catch some of this meteor shower and all of the other objects in the Night Sky this weekend.

Friday, May 23rd (weather-alternate is the 24th)

Bob Piekiel hosts his monthly session at Baltimore Woods. The description for this event is below. For additional information, including RSVP’ing with Baltimore Woods for the event, Click HERE.

Join Bob Piekiel for a possible Meteor Storm! In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 24, the Earth will pass through the debris field left behind by a small comet known as P/209 LINEAR. Astronomers are predicting that this interaction may result in a brief but intense burst of meteor activity that could range from dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour. Nothing is certain, but many mathematical models are predicting that this could be the most intense meteor shower in more than a decade. Saturn will also be at its biggest for its best viewing of the whole year, plus good views of Jupiter and Mars are to be had. Come and say “hello” to the Spring Skies!

Saturday, May 24th – CNYO Hosts A Session At North Sportsman’s Club

CNYO is pleased to announce our first official Public Viewing Session at NSC for 2014. Our practice session this past April 19th was excellent, featuring New Moon Telescope’s 27″ Dobsonian and several other attending scopes.

the NSC in google maps. Click to generate directions.

In addition to possible stragglers from the 209P/LINEAR shower, attendees will be treated to views of Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, all of which are out during “reasonable hours.” Additionally, the massive group of galaxies in the vicinity of the constellation Virgo are at their highest right now (and my personal favorite edge-on galaxy, NGC 4565, is right next-door in Coma Berenices). If you had any interest to looking back several tens of millions of years, this session will be a golden opportunity.

A view of the NSC facility from the observing grounds. Click for a larger view.

We hope you can join us!