Posts Tagged ‘cassiopeia’

Perseids 2013

Last night I spent about 40 minutes outside meteor spotting. Luckily it was the first night in ages that there was a mostly clear sky, apart from the occasional wispy clouds that passed overhead. It was good timing as last night was the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower of 2013 although you can still see meteors up until the 24th August when the Earth passes out of the meteor hot spot.

It took a while to spot anything but in the end I managed to see 8 meteors, 4 satellites, the International Space Station (ISS – which was a nice surprise!) and a strange looking triangle shaped Plane with weird flashing lights (aliens? ūüėČ ). The most interesting thing of all was that I also saw a bright flash in the sky and then it gradually faded away. I think it must have been a larger meteor hitting the atmosphere and exploding or something but it seemed to be heading in the wrong direction for the meteor shower, which made it more strange. It would be interesting to know if anyone else saw this last night? It must have been about 23:20 when I saw this. Please leave a comment on this post if you did see that last night as well!

As mentioned above, if you missed the meteor show last night, then you can still see them up until near the end of the month. If you can find the constellations of Cassiopeia and The Plough (Ursa Major), then kind of look between and above them and this is the general area where the meteors shoot across the sky. There were some really good ones and a couple of years ago I saw the best meteor I have ever seen towards the end of August, so it is definitely possible to see them for a few weeks yet!

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia

The Plough (part of Ursa Major)

The Plough (part of Ursa Major)

Perseid Meteor Gazing

The weather forecast was not good for the actual height of the Perseid meteor shower (it turned out to be shocking) so I went out and had a look the day before, which was last Saturday. It turned out to be a strange half hour or so!

When I first went to look outside there was a massive flash of lightning which made me jump as I wasn’t expecting it, so I assumed that the sky would be completely cloudy, but I was surprised to see that the sky was in fact mostly clear. So I went on out and had a good stare at the sky above. ¬†During the star gaze, lightning was still flashing in the distance somewhere over Dartmoor, which made it interesting. In fact, the lightning turned a bit strange at one point as it seemed to be pulsing in one cloud only! It was like the scene in Independence Day when the alien ships first started to appear out of the skies around the world. ¬†The flashes were quick as well – no more than 10 to 15 seconds apart, so there must have been one heck of a storm over Dartmoor somewhere!

Luckily this weird lightning storm didn’t take anything away from the meteors as I saw some amazing ones shoot across the sky. ¬†On some, the ‘tail’ that they left was very distinct and easy to see well after the meteor itself had vanished! I think in the time I was out there (not much more than half an hour or so), I saw 6 or 7 meteors with probably 3 or 4 of those being really big and bright. Add to this, I saw the ISS again (purely by accident this time) and 6 other satellites, which meant it was a great time sky gazing! In fact, a couple of the meteors were up there with the best I have ever seen, although the one I saw in Weymouth last September was still the best ever as it was very bright and large as it streaked across the constellation of Cassiopeia.

Did anyone else manage to see any Meteors or the strange lighting storm? Send me a comment or tweet me (@strethewey) if you did!

The International Space Station and Perseid Meteors

During the month of August the ISS (International Space Station) could be seen in the sky during most evenings. The first time that I saw it was on Sunday 21st August when my family and I were on holiday in Weymouth. I wasn’t sure what to expect really as I didn’t know how bright it was going to be and how easily it could be made out from the rest of the stars in the sky. I had a NASA app on my phone which gave the general direction of where the ISS would be coming from and the length of time it would be viewable in the sky, but I was still worried that I wouldn’t see it.

Whilst on the look out, I was scanning the sky generally for constellations and satellites and to my amazement saw the best two shooting stars I had ever seen in my life.  These were obviously not actual shooting stars but were two meteors from the Perseid Meteor Shower. This was especially great as the height of the meteor shower was a couple of weeks before, so these would have come from the tail end of the passing shower and were totally unexpected. They were so bright and the trails in the sky were long and wide. It was brilliant to see and completely lucky that I was looking at that area of the sky at the right time. I knew these were part of the Perseids as their general direction originated from towards the constellation Perseus, and from my position, they shot past in front of Cassiopeia as well.

The image below is the best image I can find that shows almost exactly what I saw in the sky.

A Perseid Meteor

A Perseid Meteor - http://science.nasa.gov

Not long after, I suddenly spotted a very bright light in the sky coming from the direction where the ISS was meant to originate from. The object was moving as well which meant that what I was seeing was the ISS, and it was bang on time (the app gives the time of when the ISS becomes visible in the sky). Where I was watching was in the direct path of the ISS, so it flew directly over the top of me which was great to see!  Looking at it you could just make out the solar panels and the general shape which made it an amazing sight. It lasted for about 4 minutes before it passed by and faded to black as it moved away from the sun (which was reflecting off the panels which is why it was visible in the sky).  After seeing this, I was out most evenings when the sky was clear to view the International Space Station pass overhead, and I would recommend the viewing to anyone as it is a great thing to experience and puts a lot of things into perspective.  Unfortunately, now we are in mid-September, the ISS has moved out of viewable range in the evenings although it can be seen for a fleeting moment during the early hours of the morning on occasions.

The International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station (ISS) - http://nasa.gov

The sighting of the International Space Station also cleared up a little mystery from earlier in the year when I was out at Mount Batten in Plymouth and saw a very bright object move across the sky at a fairly brisk pace. ¬†At the time I wasn’t sure what it was and thought it may have actually been a UFO, but after seeing the ISS during the Summer, I can now say that what I saw in March was the ISS travelling across the sky above us. Am glad this has been cleared up although it would have been nice if it was a UFO! ¬†ūüėČ