Elusive Meteor Shower and Solar Eclipse to Ring in 2011
The new year opens up with the annual Quadrantid Meteor Shower, one of the most impressive — but least observed — meteor showers of the year.
The shower is expected to peak sometime between 3 p.m. EST on Jan. 3 and 1 a.m. EST on Jan. 4. Observers in North America should look for shooting stars emanating from low on the northwestern horizon as soon as it gets dark, or towards the northeast just before dawn.
The Quadrantids are a major shower, with this year’s peak expected to display more than 100 meteors per hour. But almost no one ever sees it, partly because of typical January weather and partly because the peak lasts a few hours at most. Tonight’s skies will be moon-free, however, so if it’s clear, it will be dark.
The shower’s source was a mystery until 2003, when SETI astronomer Peter Jenniskens found evidence that the meteoroids come from a broken comet called 2003 EH1. As the Earth passes through the dead comet’s orbit, bits of dust and debris in the object’s wake blaze through the atmosphere. Earth’s orbit intersects the comet’s orbit at a right angle, meaning we move quickly through the debris stream. That’s probably why the shower’s peak is so brief.
As a bonus, viewers in Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia will see a partial solar eclipse the morning of Jan. 4. This is the first year in three years when a total solar eclipse won’t be visible from somewhere in the world, and the last chance to see a partial eclipse from Europe until 2015. In western Europe, up to 86 percent of the solar disk will be obscured by the moon at dawn, producing a beautiful crescent sunrise.
NASA provides a timeline and viewing tips. If you’re not in viewing range, you can watch online: The eclipse will be webcast from AstronomyLive.com, the University of Barcelona and Bareket Observatory in Israel.
WY: #leonid #illuminati some link btwn the timeline IRL bipolar shifts? something whacko that the crazy scientists dreamed up... WHACKO