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Latest NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office Stories

The Fireballs Of February
2012-02-23 04:23:03

Feb. 22, 2012:  In the middle of the night on February 13th, something disturbed the animal population of rural Portal, Georgia. Cows started mooing anxiously and local dogs howled at the sky. The cause of the commotion was a rock from space. "At 1:43 AM Eastern, I witnessed an amazing fireball," reports Portal resident Henry Strickland. "It was very large and lit up half the sky as it fragmented. The event set dogs barking and upset cattle, which began to make excited sounds. I...

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2009-12-13 17:50:00

Make hot cocoa. Bundle up. Tell your friends. The best meteor shower of 2009 is about to fall over North America on a long, cold December night. "It's the Geminid meteor shower," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "and it will peak on Dec. 13th and 14th under ideal viewing conditions." A new Moon will keep skies dark for a display that Cooke and others say could top 140 meteors per hour. According to the International Meteor Organization, maximum activity should occur...

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2009-11-17 08:20:00

This year's Leonid meteor shower peaks on Tuesday, Nov. 17th. If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a mild but pretty sprinkling of meteors over North America followed by a more intense outburst over Asia. The phase of the Moon will be new, setting the stage for what could be one of the best Leonid showers in years. "We're predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as many as 200 to 300 per hour over Asia," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment...

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2009-10-19 13:50:00

The Orionid meteor shower peaks this week and it could be a very good show. "Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, the source of the Orionids," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Flakes of comet dust hitting the atmosphere should give us dozens of meteors per hour." The best time to look is before sunrise on Wednesday, Oct. 21st. That's when Earth encounters the densest part of Halley's debris stream. Observing is easy: Wake up a few hours...

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2009-07-31 06:15:00

Earth is entering a stream of dusty debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although the shower won't peak until August 11th and 12th, the show is already getting underway. Don't get too excited, cautions Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "We're just in the outskirts of the debris stream now. If you go out at night and stare at the sky, you'll probably only see a few Perseids per hour." This will change, however, as August unfolds....

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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...

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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...