Sunday, October 12, 2014

Piece of Halley's Comet disintegrates over New Mexico


ORIONID METEOR SHOWER: Last night, Oct. 11-12, NASA's All-Sky Meteor Network detected a piece of Halley's Comet disintegrating in the atmosphere over New Mexico. The fireball was bright enough to see through the light of a bright gibbous Moon:

Multiple cameras tracked the meteoroid, which allowed a calculation of its trajectory: It hit Earth's atmosphere traveling 68 km/s (152,000 mph) and fully disintegrated 67.9 km above Earth's surface.

This fireball is a sign that the Orionid meteor shower is about to begin. Every year in mid- to late-October, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, the parent of the Orionids. For many nights in a row, pre-dawn sky watchers can see meteors streaking out of the constellation Orion, near the Hunter's shoulder. In 2014, forecasters expect the Orionids to peak on Oct. 21-22 with 20 to 25 meteors per hour.

Stay tuned for updates about meteor activity as Earth approaches the heart of the debris stream.

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