Recently, the world of astronomy has gone abuzz over the Delphinid Meteor Shower. Never heard of it? Well, you’re not alone as the shower was reported only one on June 11, 1930. However, thanks to predictions published by NASA, many were hopeful that the shower might return for 2013.
Unfortunately, the shower has apparently materialized in the form of just a few meteors.
Of all the -themed photo websites out there,Spaceweather.com is probably the best. Online since 2001, Spaceweather may be the premiere user-generated photo website on the whole Internet. Why? Spaceweather relies on its users to build its extensive photo galleries and people are happy to fulfill this request, submitting photos from all over the world. With nearly a decade of images, there are enough photos on Spaceweather to probably fill dozens upon dozens of hard drives. Well, as of now, there is a small gallery of Delphinid pictures, too (go to the June 13 archive is the link has disappeared).
As for the shower itself, it was on the evening of June 11, 1930 that three members of the American Meteor Society (AMS) reported a flurry of meteor activity in spite of a Full Moon, which will outshine all but the rightest of incoming space rocks. The meteors radiated from the constellation of Delphinus and is thus how the shower, never before seen, became known as the Delphinids.
However, in 1931 and following years, there came a problem: no meteors. Result: many people doubted the authenticity of the 1930 sighting, which only lasted for less than half an hour.
Meteor showers are caused when Earth passes through a stretch of space junk, often cometary debris. When the particles, traveling at tens of thousands of miles per hour, hit earth’s atmosphere, they experience friction, heat up, and start to glow. It is the glowing from these tiny particles that we see as meteors. Causes understood, many have wondered why the shower has appeared only once.
Well, there are a couple of answers.
First, the stream of debris could be extremely thin. The 1930 event could have been a ‘storm’ for the Delphinids, thus meaning that a normal shower might only consist of a few meteors, too few to recognize as a shower. Second, and more unlikely, a collision between bodies in space could have sent a one-time spray of debris our way, with what missed us speeding by and elsewhere into space.
Bottom line: no Delphinid outburst for 2013, better luck in 2014.
As the last part of the puzzle, if you plan to do any stargazing, be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecast and, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. The bad news: at least in the Cleveland area, things are always iffy when it comes to clear skies this time of year. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you.
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