The Ghostly Glow of Streaking Orionids’

Watch after each streaking meteorite for a ghostly glow rising from its path
Watch after each streaking meteorite for a ghostly glow rising from its path

Watch for a ghostly glow rising from the corpse of streaking meteorites once they pass

October, 2014 should be a great month for viewing this phenomenon
October 2014 should be a great month for viewing this phenomenon

Space news – October (2014) –

This Halloween modern sky watchers in both hemispheres have the opportunity to witness a ghostly celestial phenomenon viewed by ancient astronomers for generations, the ghostly afterglow of streaking meteorites of the Orionid meteorite shower. For a few nights centered on October 21, 2014, you can watch for a ghostly glow rising from the corpse of each streaking meteorite, which is pieces of Halley’s Comet burning up as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere.

E.C. Herrick is thought to have made the first modern sighting of the Orionid meteorite shower between 1839-40, but his measurements and data were imprecise. The first pinpoint study of this meteorite shower is credited to noted astronomer A.S. Herschel on October 18, 1864, when he recorded 14 meteorites appearing to originate from the constellation of Orion, but it would take a further year of study to confirm his findings.

During the 19th century, British astronomer W.F. Denning and American astronomer C.P. Olivier had a documented debate about whether the point from where the meteorites appear to originate moved from night to night. It would take until the 20th century for modern space scientists to determine using state-of-the-art photography and precise plotting of Orionids that this is in fact not true.

W.F. Denning published a report in one 1887 issue of The Observatory, in which he stated he saw 47 of 57 streaking Orionids leave a ghostly glow in their path after passing, during a viewing session lasting five nights. Denning estimated the magnitudes of streaking Orionids’ between 2nd and 4th magnitude, due to several that brightened considerably after burning up. Watch carefully on the nights centered around October 21, 2014, and you could witness this ghostly celestial phenomenon for yourself.

The best part of viewing Orionids is you don’t need technology because human eyes are perfect for the job. The Moon will be almost new this October, so just find the best spot to view the night sky you know, and lie down on a soft spot on the ground. The best time to arrive for the show is just before midnight or just prior to dusk, but any time between 12 and dawn should be fine. Viewers in the Southern Hemisphere should look towards the northeastern sky, while people in the Northern Hemisphere should look towards the southeast.

Get out there and view the cosmos

Serious sky watchers desiring to get a better idea of the exact times and dates during October 2014 to view Orionids where they live, can get a better estimate here. Just remember to check weather forecasts for the October nights you plan on viewing the night sky for Orionids and dress accordingly. If everything goes as predicted this Orionid meteorite shower could provide as many as 20 opportunities an hour to view a ghostly glow rising from the corpse of a streaking meteorite.

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Blaze Your Name in the Night Sky

Celestial bodies in the night sky are often named after their discoverers

Astronomy News – Write your name in the annals of the human journey to the beginning of space and time –

Take a look at the night sky above you and name a few of the celestial objects you know in your head. Would you like to leave your name written in the annals of astronomy and human history? One of the greatest honors for an astronomer is to have their name adorn a celestial body in the night sky. Look up into the night sky and many of the stellar bodies you see will have been named in honor of their discoverer, a famous figure in history or science, or will have been given a designation of some type to distinguish them from other stellar bodies. Humans will forever speak of the distant ice balls at the fringe of the solar system we refer to as the Kuiper Belt and Haley’s Comet.

Halley's Comet will be back one day
Halley’s Comet will be seen again in a few years

Astronomy lovers can write their name in the history books

True, the chances of a celestial body in the night sky being named for a particular amateur astronomer is remote, at best, considering the competition and the fact that the decision is made by other powers in the universe. The possibility of this certainly increases for a professional astronomer making a significant discovery, but the final decision is still in the hands of other powers. There are a lot more amateur astronomers looking at the night sky on a nightly basis than professional astronomers, and this fact alone is going to make it likely that amateur astronomers will make significant contributions to the history of astronomy.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if a professional astronomer or two have spent a few moments in contemplation of a celestial body being named in their honour or moment in time when they could be making astronomy history. Speculating astronomers might have even gone to the trouble of choosing a name for their discovery. The actual naming of newly discovered celestial bodies is actually conducted by other powers in the world of astronomy.

This doesn’t mean that amateur astronomers aren’t honoured by having their names adorn a celestial body in the night sky. Tom Bopp, an amateur stargazer will forever live on in the minds of humans as the discoverer of the biggest comet of the twentieth century, Hale-Bopp, which was also independently discovered by astronomer Alan Hale.

Hale-Bopp is often very bright in the night sky when it appears
Hale-Bopp’s two tails are in view here

Astronomy is a journey all human beings can take part in

The only way you can hope to leave your name written in the history of astronomy is to spend time watching the night sky above you. Every time you board your time machine to the stars and soar upward and out into the cosmos, you could find something that no human has seen before.

Join me every night as we’ll “Journey to the Beginning of Time and Space” and go on a voyage of discovery that will take us to unknown parts of the universe.

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