Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Surprise outburst of bright "September Perseids" recorded

As reported first by SpaceWeather, on Sept. 9th a surprising flurry of bright fireballs lit up the skies of North America. The SENTINEL all-sky camera picked up 25 bright meteors in a shower that began at 6:20 UTC and lasted approximately 4 hours. Most appear to have a radiant near Perseus, making this probably an outburst of the September Perseids: these meteors come from an unknown comet and typically produce no more than a handful of dim meteors per hour when the shower peaks on Sept. 8th and 9th; this is the first time they have been caught bursting in this fashion. Most of the meteors recorded by the NASA camera were magnitude -2 or brighter, i.e., as bright as Jupiter or Venus, something a visual observer confirms while others could get more pictures and were able to calculate a radiant. The CBET #1501 also notes detections of outburst by several Radio Forward Meteor Scatter observers in Europe: So this surprise event was well covered - and reminds us that one should always watch the skies ...

In other news there were so many observations of the "naked-eye GRB" that a detailled understanding seems possible as reported at a NASA telecon today. • The volcanic twighlights over Europe are gone but could be back. • Did the HST image an exoplanet in a disk that even Keck couldn't see? • What we've learned (sofar) about asteroid Steins - and how to pronounce its name. • And finally some unusual solar sailing by MESSENGER as it nears its 2nd Mercury encounter.

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