Sky and Telescope has prepared four detailed charts to help observers locate 3122 Florence this week. Two of these show the asteroid’s general motion northward among the constellations. Two more show small areas of sky, plotting all stars brighter than magnitude 9.5, for North American observers on the evenings of August 29-31 and September 1-3. Note that the detailed charts are labeled for Universal Time (GMT), and you’ll have to apply a time-zone correction for your location (for example, 0h UT on August 31st corresponds to 8 pm EDT on August 30th).
During its visit, Florence will be traveling roughly south to north, crossing through the constellations Capricornus, Aquarius, Delphinus, Vulpecula, and Cygnus. An especially good opportunity occurs at about 8 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday evening, September 2nd, when the asteroid crosses the quartet of 4th-magnitude stars that mark the head of Delphinus, the Dolphin. It will be gliding northward by a little less than the full Moon’s diameter each hour, motion that should be obvious by watching the asteroid’s starlike pinpoint through a telescope for just a few minutes.
Florence appears this bright, despite being far away, both because it’s among the largest near-Earth asteroids (2.7 miles across) and it has a fairly bright surface that reflects more than 20% of the sunlight that strikes it. (For comparison, the Moon’s average reflectivity is just 12%.) Although it rotates in just 2.4 hours, this asteroid must be nearly spherical because its brightness varies by no more than about 11% – too small a change to pick up by eye.
The British Columbia Meteor Network and its associate members are dedicated volunteers who have worked together to advance knowledge of meteor science. Some of our members are professionals although most are devoted amateurs.
The network is comprised of a video detection component as well as a radio detection component. We share our data with multinational governments and astronomy groups.
Data collection is only one goal of the the network. We also hope to promote a strong educational program in open cooperation with the school districts and community colleges of British Columbia.
Feel free to browse our site. Likewise, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to know more.
2015-11-13 : 10:21 PST. Splashdown was last night at 22:19 PST in SRI LANKA off coast of Matara. Was late evening on USA Westcoast Thursday. Please enjoy my Blog. This is a conversation between young post-grad scientist Subath Amaradasa of the “Near Earth Objects” Team at the University of Ruhuna, who is on ground with French scientists from European Space Agency and William Smith who is the Hoyle-Shield coordinator at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park, Victoria, Canada.
PS There will be a post script to the Snoopy event. Snoopy is almost certainly the Apollo 10 lunar lander – aka Snoopy. Its orbit which reaches way past the moon, makes this almost certain. No wonder it burned out. Very high speed entering the upper atmosphere. Ten times the speed of the fastest bullet on earth. Being small and with no shielding, no wonder it quickly burned out. Thanks to Rick Nowell for inspiring Subath Amaradasa and his “Near Earth Object” team at the University of Ruhuna in Matara, Sri Lanka.
Shown above is an animated GIF of the rocket stage disintegrating as it passed over the Cranbrook, BC meteor-cam site. The Kelowna BC meteor-cam site caught a glimpse of it as well. The video frames displayed are 2 seconds apart over a 33 second period. It took a total of 83 seconds to pass overhead, coming in low like a comet over the Southeastern horizon, and leaving in four trailing chunks over the Northeastern horizon.
It was a highly visible fireball, with a long glowing tail with dozens of pieces sparkling and falling off. Many people in Cranbrook reported seeing it, phoning the radio station and enquiring at the airport. At first some wondered if it was a burning jet aircraft.
Reply-To: Ted Molczan Re-entry of 2014-088B seen from U.S.A. and Canada
I awoke to a message from Joseph Remis with news that the re-entry of 2014-088B / 40363 had been seen from the western U.S. and Canada. It was stage 3 of the CZ-4B rocket that launched Yaogan Weixing 26 on 2014 Dec 27 UTC.
USSTRATCOM’s apparently final TIP message, issued at 11:15 UTC, reports the decay at 5:54 UTC +/- 7 min, near 42.3 N, 111.6 W. That corresponds to descent to 10 km, the approximate toe of the debris footprint (should any have survived to impact Earth). Based on the sightings, the final descent was farther north, well into Canada, but within the stated time uncertainty.
As I write, more than 140 observations have been reported to the AMS site: http://www.amsmeteors.org/members/imo_view/event/2015/451
The object was north-bound, descending from a 97.3 deg orbit. There are confirmed sightings from Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, British Columbia, Alberta. The most southerly observation I have noted so far was from Scottsdale, Arizona; the most northerly from Didsbury, Alberta. That spans nearly 3000 km of the descent.
I have plotted a large sample of the AMS sighting locations, along with the ground track of 14088B:
The underlying Google Earth kmz file is here: http://satobs.org/seesat_ref/misc/2014-088B_re-entry.kmz
The LEONID METEOR SHOWER rapidly approaches us on Sunday night/ Monday morning, Nov 16/17, when the Earth passes through dust and ice particles from comet Tempel-Tuttle. Meteor counts are estimated at around 15 per hour this year (or one meteor every 4 minutes). The crescent Moon is below the Eastern horizon until around 1am, so the skies will be fairly dark. The Leonid meteors are travelling swiftly at 71 km/s which can create fast green ionization trails 70 to 120km high in the upper atmosphere.
Leo, the meteor radiant, rises about midnight (can you see the backwards question mark framing the head and mane of Leo the Lion in the constellation photo above, with Regulus as the dot?). Big bright Jupiter is a white dot in front of Leo (not shown here). The higher Leo rises, the more meteors to be seen. Thus, the best time is after midnight until about 6am. The actual peak is Monday Nov 17 at 22:00 hr universal time or (minus 7) that’s 3pm Mountain Standard Time, or 2pm Pacific.
The crescent Moon rises at 1am, just under the belly of Leo, which gives a glow which drowns out the fainter meteors.
Here’s some notes from the IAU, The International Astronomical Union:
LEONID METEORS 2014
S. Nakano, Sumoto, Japan; and D. Asher, Armagh Observatory, write that it will be scientifically interesting to see if two enhanced streams of Leonid meteors can be detected — both predicted to be at low levels if observable — around Nov. 17.06-17.07 UT (due to material ejected from comet 55P in 1833 and seen in 1867, predicted by Nakano and Y. Kosai) and Nov. 21.3-21.4 (material from 1567, predicted by M. Maslov and J. Vaubaillon). The main stream of Leonid meteors is expected to peak around Nov. 17.9 (with full-width at half-maximum of a couple of days, via Maslov). (C) Copyright 2014 CBAT 2014 November 16 (CBET 4016) Daniel W. E. Green
Chance of seeing NORTHERN LIGHTS:
The NOAA spaceweather site mentions there was a medium M3 solar flare on Nov 15, and predicts some Northern Light activity on Nov 15, dying down by the 17. So you may also see the Aurora to the North if you’re at higher latitudes. The photo below shows a red/green Aurora spike seen against the Big Dipper stars, with the Skookumchuck Pulp Mill amber lights illuminating a plume of steam drifting up from it’s stacks, glowing in the woodsmoke low behind the tree. Taken on Saturday night, Nov 15, from Wasa BC (in South-eastern BC).
Like meteors, the aurora occurs in the upper atmosphere, where gas molecules are hit by electrons from the Sun. The lower edge at 80 to 100 km is where nitrogen atoms glow crimson; midway between 100 and 200km, oxygen gas glows green, and nitrogen glows blue; and above that from 100 to 250 km, oxygen gas glows a dim red.
On the Hunt for rare rock after meteorite falls in December
University of Calgary geoscience professor asking for the public’s help.
A month after a spectacular fireball December 20, 2014, over the Rocky Mountains, University of Calgary researcher Alan Hildebrand is on a quest for rare meteorites.
In the early morning hours of December 20 a small piece of an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere high above Canal Flats, British Columbia, headed northeastwards towards Calgary, Alberta. Although western B.C. and eastern Alberta were overcast, the fireball was seen and imaged over the region between the clouds in both provinces. One spectacular still image was luckily taken by Brett Abernethy who was out with a friend imaging the night sky over Mt. Rundle near Banff when the fireball blazed an 80 km-long trail across the sky (See attached figure 1). Brett says, “We were looking north when everything lit up and we turned to see the fireball. It broke into at least three pieces and turned bright orange before fading away. After the initial shock I remembered that I was exposing a shot during the fireball and was overjoyed to discover that the shot was not overexposed.” Brett alerted the Calgary Herald to the event, who published his image which stimulated on-line discussion from other eyewitnesses.
In his search for more information about the fireball Hildebrand contacted Rick Nowell at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C., who recorded it with his Sandia all-sky video camera through patchy clouds, and was able to correctly mark the fireball’s start time to precisely 00:25:00. With this accurate time, another all-sky still image was obtained from the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO). With these additional images in hand, he and his team were able to triangulate its location in the sky.
“It was very interesting to see how precisely a fireball path could be located just from two pictures taken more than 100 km away. We probably know where it was, start to finish within 100 metres,” says Lincoln Hanton, a recent University of Calgary graduate working with Hildebrand. The video recorded in Cranbrook and the fireball’s trajectory also show that it was a relatively slow entry velocity which favours the fall of meteorites.
Hildebrand says the fireball shows extraordinary properties. “In the photo taken by Brett, the fireball becomes visible at approximately 100 km altitude, starts fragmenting at approximately 60 km, and has its last and biggest explosion at 43 km. Those altitudes are much higher than normal. That means the rock was likely a weak type of asteroid.”
Rare carbonaceous chondrite rock
Hildebrand says the apparent weakness displayed indicates that this rock was unusual, probably a carbonaceous chondrite, which is a specific type of stony meteorite that originates from the Outer Asteroid Belt. At that distance from the Sun water and carbon-bearing compounds condensed and mixed into asteroidal bodies. Carbonaceous chondrites represent only approximately three per cent of meteorites that fall on Earth.
“Eyewitness accounts indicate that meteorites fell after surviving the trip through the atmosphere; the estimated rock mass entering the atmosphere was about 100 kg, but the largest pieces on the ground are probably only 2 kg,” says Hildebrand. “The meteorites fell in a forested area of the upper White River valley. It’s a tough area to search.” (See Figure 2)
Hildebrand says with the possibility of such a rare find his team will do some searching in the spring and encourage any others who can travel safely in this relatively remote area to search as well. How you can help
Hildebrand and his team are eager to talk with anyone who saw the fireball from Canal Flats, Fairmont Hot Springs, or Elkford, B.C. He encourages property owners in that region to check security camera systems for any shadows cast by the fireball. Anyone who had a wildlife camera in the region is also asked to check that date and time for moving shadows. Contact the University of Calgary at 403-220-8969 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact information: Brett Abernethy 403-620-6929 Lincoln Hanton 403-220-8969 Alan Hildebrand 403-220-2291 Rick Nowell 250-489-2751 ext 3585
Figure 1: Brett Abernethy’s image of the Dec 20 fireball looking south over Mt. Rundle from near Johnson Lake. The fireball crossed the constellation of Orion and then began fragmenting where the trail brightens and broadens. Note the slight reddening at the fireball’s end as the surviving rock fragments slowed and cooled before falling to the ground. Image is a 40 second exposure taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with a wide angle Zeiss 21 mm lens which slightly compresses the vertical aspect of the image. (All rights reserved)
Figure 2: Satellite image of eastern British Columbia showing location of the fireball trajectory projected onto the ground and estimated meteorite fall area as a yellow ellipse. The end of the fireball was about 40 km east of Fairmont Hot Springs. An eyewitness in Canal Flats would have seen the fireball travel almost straight downwards in the sky. (Figure constructed on Google Earth base)
One of the best meteor showers during the year are the Geminids, which occur annually on Dec 14. Earth enters the fringes of their orbit from Dec 4 until Dec 17. The peak of 120 meteors per hour, should be from Saturday noon Dec 13, until Sunday morning 10am Dec 14, 2014.
The skies were dark, since the Moon didn’t rise until after midnight. Although both nights it got cloudy around 1am where I am near Cranbrook, BC. The meteors were generally bright, medium fast speeds of 35km/s, and different colours. I saw white and red. This shower has some mass sorting, with small dust arriving the first day, followed by grains of sand, then pebbles a day later. It’s debris from a 5km diameter asteroid, 3200 Pheathon.
Dec 16 is also the peak for a smaller meteor shower, the Coma Berenicids, with a peak of 3 meteors per hour.
I took three Nikon cameras out. I goofed on one camera, I had it set for just ISO 1000. That captured two meteors in Ursa Minor, and that’s why they were so dim. The other two cameras were set at 3200 ISO, which is optimum. The max is 6400, but that can be snowy. The slight background brown glow is woodsmoke and thin cloud, the camera sensor shows haze like that. This was a Vivitar 28mm f/2.5 lens, hooded against the frost. All the tripods and camera equipment quickly frosted over at the -7 deg temperatures.
I was out again Sunday evening by Horseshoe Lake, with clouds over Orion. I got a hundred more photos and listened to coyotes howling nearby. The meteors were pretty nice still, I saw one every minute, some just out of the corners of my eye. Most were white falling parallel to the northern and southern horizon. Two I saw were moving slow, red in colour, on the far Western horizon.
The AllSky Meteor Cam at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook BC
This is the College All-sky meteor cam showing the eleven brightest Dec 15 meteors stacked on one frame, from 7pm until 2am when it clouded over. North at top of photo and East to the left. Two bright fireballs on the horizon! That trail of dots there is Jupiter rising. Some clumps of dots are just aircraft strobes.
And here’s the 11 meteor stack for Dec 14 from 9pm until 1:15am, when it clouded over. About the same each evening.
And just for fun, here’s all the photos stacked from the camera watching Ursa Minor over a 43 minute period, taken with 30 second exposures, 28mm f/2.5 lens, 1000 ISO.
This photo was taken facing South, showing Orion before the Moon rose, from Invermere by Robert Ede. He says: I saw some beauties. A few with smoke trails.
The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should peak Monday night, the 5th of May at 07:00 Universal Time (or midnight Mountain Time, 11pm Pacific Time), but the best viewing times (due to the Moon and a low Eastern radiant) will a few hours before dawn Tuesday morning, around 4am to 5am.
At the peak, up to 55 meteors could be seen each hour.They’re pretty fast, at 66km/second, often bright with very long paths, and leave persistent glowing trails.
The source of the meteors is debris from Halley’s comet.The Comet’s orbital path contains dust particles and ice (thinned out in spots by Jupiter).The Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley’s Comet twice each year.In May we see it as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower and in October the Orionids.
The Eta Aquarids should be best seen early Tuesday morning. The Moon will have set by then, so it will be seen under a dark sky.The radiant is low in the Eastern sky, in Aquarius, which rises around 4am.So half the meteors will be unseen below the horizon.