Summer’s Here! Summer Triangle Of Stars Just Seen..

I have just photographed the “Summer Triangle” from my driveway, using a Canon DSLR camera. The three stars are low in the East, so we can rejoice.. summer has arrived!

Summer Triangle Of Stars

Summer Triangle Of Stars (click for larger)

The “Summer Triangle” is a startling asterism of three bright stars. Even non-astronomers notice this prominent triangle pattern, during the Northern hemisphere summer.

The star pattern is made more noticeable by the generally light sky at this time of year (it doesn’t get properly “nautical” dark, if you are more than about 52 degrees of latitude North).

I have enhanced the image below, by drawing the “triangle sides”. Hopefully, this will help you to spot the Summer Triangle, when you look up at this time of year. (Ignore the aeroplane trail!)

Enjoy the summer!

Summer Triangle Deneb, Vega, Altair

Summer Triangle of Deneb, Vega, Altair (click for larger)

The stars are Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila.

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Big December Meteor Shower Tomorrow

I’m a little late with this… I usually try to give a “heads-up”, a week or two in advance.

Tomorrow, the night of Sunday 13th December to Monday 14th December is the peak of the Geminids meteor shower.

This is the annual shower of “shooting stars” that appear to emanate from the constellation of Gemini (however, they are NOT stars, just fragments of dust and rock debris burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere and they are also completely unrelated to the stars we describe as Gemini).

Nevertheless, the Geminids is a sky event well worth making an effort for. You MAY see a wonderful display of streaks of light across your sky, if you are blessed with dark and clear skies where you are.

The peak is expected around 5am UT (that’s the same as Greenwich Mean Time), but it should be worthwhile for you to look to the sky in the early hours at your local time. The Geminids is often a broad maximum, so you may be surprised. Anything around one meteor per minute, is very good!

Here is a sky map of where to look.

December Geminids Meteor Shower Radiant (click for larger image)

December Geminids Meteor Shower Radiant (click for larger image)

Best of luck.

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Leonids Meteor Shower Next Week (Very Favorable)

The annual “Leonids” meteor shower takes place next week over the period Tuesday 17th to Wednesday 18th November.

What is it?

This shower of meteors (often wrongly called “shooting stars”) occurs every year. It happens when the Earth on its orbit about the Sun, passes through dust and rock remnants, left behind in the past by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.

The brief, bright streaks of light we may see in the night sky, result when this material burns in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Why is this shower called the “Leonids”?

Because the meteor trails APPEAR to originate in the constellation of Leo (the Lion), if you trace back an imaginary straight line across the sky.. (But note, they have no true connection with the stars we see in the constellation, which are MUCH further away)

This apparent origin is illustrated by the sky map below. It shows the position of Leo and the meteor shower radiant point, rising above the Eastern horizon at 1.00UT during the night of 17 – 18 November.

Leonids Radiant Rising In East, 1.00 UT, 18 Nov, Lat 51 N, Long 0 E

Leonids Radiant Rising In East, 1.00 UT, 18 Nov, Lat 51 N, Long 0 E (click for larger)

Is it worth looking this year?

It should be – the conditions are extremely favorable.

With the new Moon on 16th November, there will be scarcely any moonlight to disrupt observation of meteors.

Also, some meteor specialists have suggested there may be a strong, even “storm force” shower this year, such as occured in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

When exactly should you look for meteors?

Various specialists use models to try to predict exactly when the shower peaks (both minor peaks and major peaks) will occur. But these are only predictions, so it should be worth looking over the 17th – 18th period.

It will be best to look when the radiant point (see map above) is above your local horizon. The further South you are, the earlier in the night Leo will rise above your local East horizon.

Summary

Wrap-up warmly if you are spending time outdoors and good luck!

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