Star gazing in january- the coma berenicids meteor shower

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Star gazing in january- the coma berenicids meteor shower

  1. 1. Star Gazing in January -The Coma BerenicidsMeteor Shower
  2. 2. The night sky in January is always interesting to observe,to professional and amateur astronomers alike. The annualmeteor shower in the constellation Coma Berenices is notgenerally known as a bringer of a great spectacle in thenight sky, but this year it did provide some spectacularsights to observers who happened to be in the right placeat the right time
  3. 3. The meteor shower in Coma Berenices in December wasfirst recorded more than 50 years ago. At the time, it wasconfused for another shower that occurs in the nearbyconstellation Leo Minor. Subsequently, it was called the"December Leo Minorids." The confusion isunderstandable. The Coma Berenicids are approximatelyjust as swift entering the atmosphere as the Leo Minorids,with velocities of approximately 64 kilometres per second.Beyond that, as far as meteor showers go, the ComaBerenicids are relatively inconspicuous, throwing onlyseveral bright meteors each hour.
  4. 4. This year, howerever, might be an exception. While theComa Berenicids usually do not have any major displays ofactivity, observers in the U.K. have reported quite a sight inrecent days, going so far as to describe it as "fire balls" inthe night sky. An observer in Cumbria reported seeing "ahuge bright yellow square with four triangular yellowflashes emitting from the main body... it traveled slowly withno sound from NE to SW and burnt out over the Sea--fantastic sight!" An observer in Scotland reported "20-25orange balls streaking across the sky" on New Years Eve.
  5. 5. The meteor shower was so intense that it even frightened some observers. David Pulman, aBritish pilot, said, "My wife has been in a bit of a panic ever since as she fears there is some sortof official news black out! They were very easily visible- no need for telescope or binoculars.They must have been pretty big too in order that we could see them so clearly- and obviouslyfire balls- to the point of being able to see them (mostly) burn up in the atmosphere."
  6. 6. The meteor shower was so intense that it even frightened some observers. David Pulman, aBritish pilot, said, "My wife has been in a bit of a panic ever since as she fears there is some sortof official news black out! They were very easily visible- no need for telescope or binoculars.They must have been pretty big too in order that we could see them so clearly- and obviouslyfire balls- to the point of being able to see them (mostly) burn up in the atmosphere."

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