Draconid meteor shower — a great show in 2012?

October 8, 2012

Space Weather says radar suggests a big show, already begun, with 1,000 meteoroids an hour:

DRACONID METEOR OUTBURST UNDERWAY: The CMOR radar in Canada is picking up a major outburst of Draconid meteors commencing at 16 UT on Oct. 8th. “Radar rates are at 1000 meteors per hour,” reports Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “This is greater than last year’s outburst, and 5x the 2005 level.” Cooke encourages northern sky watchers, especially in Europe where night is falling, to be alert for Draconid activity. Because radars are sensitive to very small meteoroids, there is no guarantee that this radar outburst will translate into meteors visible to the human eye. On the other hand, a brilliant display could be in progress. The only way to know is to go outside and look. [CMOR radar data] [sky map] [Submit: reports or photos]
Listen: Tune into Space Weather Radio to hear live Draconid radar echoes.

Can you see these rocks as they burn up?  Or are they too small to make a visible “splash,” even though registering on radar?

Heck, some reports say it’s even more active than that; Sky and Telescope reports up to 2,200 meteoroids per hour.

How to tell?  Go outside and look up!

Draconids are most active in the early evening (other showers tend to be active after midnight).  Look toward the head of Draco the Dragon.  EarthSky.org offers a skymap to help out:

Draconid meteor shower, October 8, 2012 - map from EarthSky.org

Draconid meteor shower, October 8, 2012 – map from EarthSky.org

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Fly your flag today: Columbus Day 2012

October 8, 2012

Falling down on the job here as arbiter of your flag-flying habits.  How could I forget that some of America celebrates this day as Columbus Day?  (No one in this household gets the day off.)

Fly your U.S. flag today. Fly it to honor Columbus’s discovery of the Americas.  Or, fly your flag to honor exploration and explorers, and to remember the people who suffered so greatly as a result of the collision of European cultures in search of money, and American cultures lacking gunpowder and steel.

The second Monday in October is celebrated as Columbus Day, a federal holiday (though not widely honored in private enterprise).  Columbus made landfall in the Americas for the first time on October 12, 1492, 520 years ago.

John Vanderlyn Oil on canvas, 12 x 18 Commissioned 1836/1837; placed 1847 Rotunda    Christopher Columbus is shown landing in the West Indies, on an island that the natives called Guanahani and he named San Salvador, on October 12, 1492. He raises the royal banner, claiming the land for his Spanish patrons, and stands bareheaded, with his hat at his feet, in honor of the sacredness of the event. The captains of the Niña and Pinta follow, carrying the banner of Ferdinand and Isabella. The crew displays a range of emotions, some searching for gold in the sand. Natives watch from behind a tree.  John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) had studied with Gilbert Stuart and was the first American painter to be trained in Paris, where he worked on this canvas for ten years with the help of assistants.

John Vanderlyn, Oil on canvas, 12′ x 18′ – Commissioned 1836/1837; placed 1847 in the Rotunda of the Capitol. Christopher Columbus is shown landing in the West Indies, on an island that the natives called Guanahani and he named San Salvador, on October 12, 1492. He raises the royal banner, claiming the land for his Spanish patrons, and stands bareheaded, with his hat at his feet, in honor of the sacredness of the event. The captains of the Niña and Pinta follow, carrying the banner of Ferdinand and Isabella. The crew displays a range of emotions, some searching for gold in the sand. Natives watch from behind a tree. John Vanderlyn (1775-1852) had studied with Gilbert Stuart and was the first American painter to be trained in Paris, where he worked on this canvas for ten years with the help of assistants.

Did you notice?  In the painting in the U.S. Capitol, Columbus isn’t flying the U.S. flag.  Acccuracy over political correctness winds, eh?

Below the fold:  A description of the painting in the Capitol Rotunda, from the Architect of the U.S. Capitol (the “official” version.)

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