Its raining Fireballs

INCOMING CME, CHANCE OF STORMS ON NOV 7th: Another round of geomagnetic storms may be in the offing. Sunspot AR2443 erupted on Nov. 4th, hurling a CME into space: movie. The magnetized cloud of plasma is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on Nov. 7th. NOAA forcasters say G1-class geomagnetic storms and auroras are possible when the CME arrives. Aurora alerts: text or voice

TAURID FIREBALLS: There is no longer any doubt. Earth is passing through a stream of gravelly debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower. Meteoroids the size of pebbles, and larger, are disintegrating as they hit our planet’s atmosphere at 30 km/s. To see what effect this is having on the night sky, Martin Popek of Nýdek (Czech republic) activated a low-light camera in his backyard and let it run all night long. This is what it recorded:

fireballs_strip

There were almost a dozen exploding meteors–all brighter than Venus and one as bright as a crescent Moon. “It was a very active night,” says Popek.

Earth runs unto the debris zone of Comet Encke every year around this time. Usually, the encounter produces a minor meteor shower, but 2015 is different.

“This is higher than usual activity,” says meteor expert Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario. “The Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) is seeing stronger Taurid activity than any of the last few years. Our Southern Ontario Meteor Network cameras caught 54 Taurid fireballs from Oct 31 – Nov 4 alone, compared to 22, 18, and 32 Taurids for the entire month of November in 2014, 2013 and 2012 respectively.”

These extra fireballs are coming from a “swarm” of gravelly meteoroids that weaves in and out of Comet Encke’s dusty debris zone. In some years, Earth hits the swarm; in other years it misses. 2015 appears to be a hit.

“I would say with some confidence the 2015 Taurid ‘swarm’ is active as predicted by astronomer David Asher,” adds Brown. If those predictions continue to be correct, the fireball display could carry on until Nov. 10th. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is during the hours around local midnight when the constellation Taurus is high in the sky.

EXPLOSION RISES, FALLS BACK TO THE SUN: Sunspot AR2445 erupted during the early hours of Nov. 4th–but the blast lacked “umph.” Much of the material hurled aloft by the explosion fell back to the surface of the sun.

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