There’s Alot Going On Up There

Except following an exceptional event, this blog usually only gets a comment or two every day. Over the past few days/nights, I’ve been swamped in comments. They all involve stuff being observed in the sky. Some I can’t explain. That doesn’t mean people saw UFOs or anything weird, just that I can’t pinpoint a possible explanation from the given description.

[Note: If you see something cool in the sky and want help in ID’ing it, at a minimum give the time you saw it (doesn’t have to be exact) and your location (city or county is fine). If you could also describe where in the sky it was (high up, to the west, etc) that would be great too.]

Since I started this blog in early September of last year, I’ve received over 150,000 visitors and 1000+ comments. I’d like to thank everyone who visited an left a note.

Since July 23rd, 55 comments have been written. Rather than respond to each comment individually, I’ll try to identify as many things as I can.

Jupiter

First off, lots of people have been startled by a bright star that is visible in the southern sky. The star rises around 8pm in the southwest and is located due south and about 40-50 degrees up around midnight. Some have noted that it is brighter than any other star and doesn’t appear to twinkle like a star. That’s because it isn’t star but the planet Jupiter. Right now Jupiter is about as bright as it gets. It is about ~13 times brighter than the brightest star visible in the sky at the same time. Even though Jupiter just got hit by a comet a few days ago, its brightness is normal and, in fact, it gets this bright for a few months every year.

Midwest Fireball

Both this blog and the American Meteor Society’s Fireball page have received many reports of a bright fireball seen from Kansas to Kentucky at 12:15 am (give or take 10-15 minutes) on the morning of July 26. The fireball appears to have been as bright as the Full Moon and was observed to fragment. So far there have been no reports of any sonic booms associated with it. This fireball was slow and bright enough that it may have been large enough to have produced meteorites that survived to reach the ground.

July26_Midwest_fireball

Reported sightings of the July 26th (12:15am) fireball. Reports from the American Meteor Society and this blog. Map created with Google Earth.

Lots of Other Meteors

Right now we are witnessing the peak of a few minor showers. The best of which are the Southern Delta Aquariids and, to a lesser extent, the Alpha Capricornids. Meteors from these showers are observable for almost the entire night, except for an hour or 2 after sunset. They can be extremely bright and of almost any color though they will usually be blue or green. It is not uncommon for these meteors to leave faint trails that are observable for a few seconds after the meteor. Unlike the giant Midwest fireball talked about above, these meteors are relatively fast and only last for a second or two.

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

One Response to There’s Alot Going On Up There

  1. We were at Gates Pass to watch the meteor shower when an incredibly glowing orb crested the hill (guess we were out there way too early for the meteors). My girlfriend was furious, she thought someone was standing on the hill shining a light down on us. It seemed to move quickly because of the closeness of the hill. Stayed there staring for hours and spent today trying to figure out what it is we saw. Thanks to your Web site, we finally figured out we were staring at Jupiter.

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