Latest Bill Cooke Stories

2008-12-06 10:10:00

Astronomers from Caltech and NASA say a strong shower of Leonid meteors is coming in 2009. Their prediction follows an outburst on Nov. 17, 2008, that broke several years of "Leonid quiet" and heralds even more intense activity next November. "On Nov. 17, 2009, we expect the Leonids to produce upwards of 500 meteors per hour," says Bill Cooke of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. "That's a very strong display." Forecasters define a meteor storm as 1000 or more meteors per hour. That would...

2008-11-11 07:25:00

It started out as a normal day. NASA astronomer and meteor expert Bill Cooke woke up, dressed, and went to his office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Colleagues greeted him as usual, there was no hum of excitement. And then he checked his email. "That's how I found out"”I'd slept through a meteor outburst!" During the dark hours before dawn on Sept. 9, 2008, a surprising flurry of meteors had showered the skies above Huntsville, Alabama. More than two dozen of them were fireballs...

2008-08-08 19:00:00

Mark your calendar: The 2008 Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12th and it should be a good show. "The time to look is during the dark hours before dawn on Tuesday, August 12th," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "There should be plenty of meteors--perhaps one or two every minute." The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the...

2008-05-22 07:20:00

Not so long ago, anyone claiming to see flashes of light on the Moon would be viewed with deep suspicion by professional astronomers. Such reports were filed under "L" "¦ for lunatic. Not anymore. Over the past two and a half years, NASA astronomers have observed the Moon flashing at them not just once but one hundred times. "They're explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the Moon," explains Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center...

2007-12-13 00:00:00

Mark your calendar: The best meteor shower of 2007 peaks on Friday, December 14th. "It's the Geminid meteor shower," says NASA astronomer Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center. "Start watching on Thursday evening, Dec. 13th, around 10 pm local time," he advises. "At first you might not see very many meteors"”but be patient. The show really heats up after midnight and by dawn on Friday, Dec. 14th, there could be dozens of bright meteors per hour streaking across the sky." The...

2007-08-30 12:10:00

Will they come, or will they not? That is the question. On Sept. 1, 2007, a flurry of bright and oddly-colored meteors might -- emphasis on might -- come streaming out of the constellation Auriga, putting on a beautiful early morning show for sky watchers in western North America: sky map. The source of the putative shower is Comet Kiess (C/1911 N1), a mysterious "long-period comet" that has visited the inner solar system only twice in the past two thousand years. In 83 BC, give or take a few...

2007-08-27 08:29:40

Most people appreciate lunar eclipses for their silent midnight beauty. NASA astronomer Bill Cooke is different: he loves the explosions. On Tuesday morning, Aug. 28th, Earth's shadow will settle across the Moon for a 90-minute total eclipse: full story. In the midst of the lunar darkness, Cooke hopes to record some flashes of light--explosions caused by meteoroids crashing into the Moon and blasting themselves to smithereens. "The eclipse is a great time to look," says Cooke, who heads up...

2007-08-12 07:30:00

Got a calendar? Circle this date: Sunday, August 12th. Next to the circle write "all night" and "Meteors!" Attach the above to your refrigerator in plain view so you won't miss the 2007 Perseid meteor shower. "It's going to be a great show," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "The Moon is new on August 12th--which means no moonlight, dark skies and plenty of meteors." How many? Cooke estimates one or two Perseids per minute at the...

2007-03-15 05:30:00

NASA scientist Bill Cooke is shooting marbles and he's playing "keepsies." The prize won't be another player's marbles, but knowledge that will help keep astronauts safe when America returns to the Moon in the next decade. Cooke is firing quarter-inch diameter clear shooters "“ Pyrex glass, to be exact "“ at soil rather than at other marbles. And he has to use a new one on each round because every 16,000 mph (7 km/s) shot destroys his shooter. "We are simulating meteoroid impacts...

2007-01-24 08:26:45

If you stare at the Moon long enough, you start seeing things. "82 things to be exact," says Bill Cooke, leader of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Group. That's how many "transient phenomena" the group has video-taped since they started monitoring the night side of the Moon in Nov. 2005. "In 107 hours of observing, we've tallied 20 lunar meteors + at least 60 Earth-orbiting satellites + one airplane + one terrestrial meteor = 82 in all." This is the first systematic count of lunar night-side...

Word of the Day
  • A somewhat riotous parade, accompanied with the blowing of tin horns, and other discordant noises; also, a burlesque serenade; a charivari.
'Callithump' is a back-formation of 'callithumpian,' a 'fanciful formation' according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However, the English Dialect Dictionary, says 'Gallithumpians' is a Dorset and Devon word from the 1790s that refers to 'a society of radical social reformers' or 'noisy disturbers of elections and meetings.'