The number of shooting stars, meteors and comets would never be enough to fulfill all of the thousand hundred wishes that humans have. None the less, we wait, in hope to witness this beauty – a shower of blessings. The night sky as always has held man kinds undeniable attention and left us amused for centuries. As we seek answers beyond our grasp, these celestial bodies bring us closer to the infinity and beyond.
Though meteors and comets are different phenomenon all together, the passing of a comet is usually linked with meteors showers that are basically debris falling burning up and illuminating the sky. Most meteor showers are associated with a particular constellation in which they originate. However there is no boundary to beauty as long we perceive it and so we humans sit back and enjoy the show.
So here we go in order of the months,
Usually occurring between the last week of December, and January 12, Quadrantids is the first meteor shower of every year. It peaks around January 3 and January 4, and is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere. The radiant point for the Quandrantids lies close to the Big Dipper, in the constellation Boötes. An above average meteor shower, it lits up the sky and is any day better and more beautiful than any firework you’ll ever witness. So this time celebrate New Years with a natural firework, a good way to start a new year.
Discovered in 1786, Comet Encke is a regular comet that can be seen every three years which is the shortest period of any known comet. It is visible in the December morning sky. Its last appearance was on Nov 21, 2013. Its next perihelion is on March 10, 2017. Usually visible only from Northern Hemisphere. It can be viewed easily with a binocular and best time to view it is pre-dawn. Comet Encke is responsible for two popular annual meteor showers –the Beta Taurids in June and the Taurids in November.
The constellation Lyra holds the radiant point of the Lyrids. It occurs near the constellation’s brightest star Alpha Lyrae. This meteor shower occurs between April 16 to April 26th of every year and can seen from the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. They are very uniform and have been observed for the last 2,600 years. So this is a meteor shower that you can rely on. Its constant and a good shot.
The Eta Aquarids, occurs between late April and mid May, peaking around May 5-6. It is best seen from the Southern Hemisphere, though it can also be sparsely observed in the Northern Hemisphere. Meteoroids in the Eta Aquarids are actually remnants from Halley’s Comet. The radiant for this shower lies in the constellation Aquarius. Halley’s comet is responsible for a number of meteor showers and this is one of the most spectacular ones even though it is restricted to the Northern hemisphere.
Although usually faint, Comet Holmes became visible to the naked eye in October 2007, becoming the largest known outburst by a comet. It became the largest object in the solar system for a brief time, where its diameter expanded to greater than that of the sun. Comet Holmes was discovered in 1892. It appears approximately once every 6 years. Its last appearance was on March 27, 2014.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs in mid August, reaching peak activity around August 11-13. The constellation Perseus, holds its radiant point and is associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle.They can be seen all across the sky. However, because of the shower’s radiant in the constellation of Perseus, the Perseids are primarily visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Draconid meteor shower,in the past also unofficially known as the Giacobinids, occurs every October, peaking around October 7-8. This shower is named after the constellation Draco, the Dragon.The Draconids are best viewed after sunset in an area with a clear dark sky. Sky watchers often look out for this firework but mostly the shower is a sleeper with lesser radiance. Because the radiant is located so far north on the sky’s dome, this shower are usually visible from temperate and far-northern regions, such as the U.S., Canada, Europe and northern Asia.
The Orionid meteor shower, which is also associated with debris from Halley’s comet, occurs every October, peaking around October 21-22. The shower is named after the constellation Orion. If you are lucky, in some years, meteors may occur at rates of 50–70 per hour but even if you are not lucky enough, the view on any average meteor shower and good and amazing enough. Halley’s comet which is responsible for this shower is another comet which the world hopefully awaits. Halley’s comet is a short period comet which is which is sadly visible in the earth’s sky only every 75-76 years. This comet however is clearly visible to the naked eye and the only naked-eye comet that will be visible twice in a human lifetime.Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.
Leonids occur during the month of November, usually peaking around mid-November. It is associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle and is named after the constellation Leo since the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky. This too occurs every year as our world crosses path with the comet. The storm is know for its periodic storm. In 2015 however no shower was observed as the waxing moon set in during the evening hours, so moonlight will did not obstruct the shower. The planet Jupiter was seen in front of the constellation.
1.URSIDS AND GEMINID
The month of December is good for meteor shower watchers, with the Geminids gracing the skies in early December, peaking around December 13-14, and the Ursids that peak around December 22-23. The Geminids owes its name to the constellation Gemini and are the only major meteor shower that is not associated with a comet, but with an asteroid. Ursids on the other hand get their name from the constellation Ursa Minor.
Now that you have all the details in hand, look out for the next shower of blessings and be sure to be there. Though the visibility of some of these are restricted to certain areas, one or the other is sure to happen in your area. Keep track and don’t miss out on it because this magic deserves to be appreciated, no matter how hectic your schedule may be. Also, who knows? Maybe this time the shooting stars will grant your wish even though this world is not a wish granting factory. No matter what, meteor showers and comet are one of those phenomenons that must be witnessed at least once in your lifetime and if possible, even more. If it interests you, the science behind these showers are quite basic and one worthy of knowing. Have a quick peek to see how these miracles of world works and just like many other worldly phenomenon the question as to ‘for what?’ will remain unanswered. Let’s leave that to the higher power and enjoy the show while we can.