Monday, December 12, 2016

Geminids to provide year's 'best meteor shower' Wednesday

Geminids will peak on Dec. 13 and 14. (NASA)
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The annual Geminid meteor shower will dazzle stargazers across the United States this week with the peek of the biggest celestial light show featuring nearly 100 shooting stars per hour.

A comet known as 3200 Phaethon will swing across Earth's orbit, it's tail made up of space rocks creating a multitude of meteors across the midnight sky. Once thought to be an asteroid due to its lack of an icy shell, astronomers have learned Phaethon's ice melted due to its several close trips around our Sun.

"The Geminids is usually one of the best meteor showers of the year," said Chief Astronomer David Dundee of the Tellus Science Museum near Atlanta on Monday. "They are usually bright meteors, and the Moon will not interfere this year either."

Observers will forgo the need of a telescope instead placing a blanket or lawn chair in an open area empty of any light pollution. Dundee noted that the celestial event may reach up to of 100 meteors per hour as observers look to the east from around midnight to dawn on Wednesday.

"It usually produces at least 50 meteors per hour, last year we had over 120 per hour," Dundee added. "Fortunately, the Moon will be a waxing crescent during this event; thus, it will set early so its light will not interfere with observations of fainter meteors."

A network of ground cameras sponsored by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office have been busy capturing the Geminids during December providing astronomers key images of the streaking fireballs. The black and white images can detail a meteor's direction of travel, and give astronomers a better count of just how many hit our atmosphere per hour. Six of the fifteen cameras are located in the southeast, including one a top Tellus; four in the Ohio-Pennsylvania region, and five in New Mexico and Arizona.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

NASA astronaut and American legend John Glenn dies at 95

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Col. John H. Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth and long time senator from Ohio, died on Thursday at the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95.
John Glenn last week in Washington, D.C. (NASA)

On February 20, 1962, John Herschel Glenn, Jr. became a national treasure as he lifted-off inside his cramped Mercury spacecraft known as Friendship 7 to begin America's first three orbits of manned spaceflight.

“The Ohio State University community deeply mourns the loss of John Glenn, Ohio’s consummate public servant and a true American hero," said Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake. "He leaves an undiminished legacy as one of the great people of our time."

A Marine fighter pilot during World War II, Glenn began his aviation career in 1943 and flew nearly sixty combat flights over the southern Pacific waters. He also served during the Korean War piloting ninety combat flights in both a F9F Panther and a F-86 Sabre jet.

Later at age 77, Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space as "six astronauts and one American legend" launched aboard space shuttle Discovery in October 1998. The senior astronaut had remained active in promoting America's space future through 2016, including speaking out on the "premature" cancellation of the shuttle program.

Born in Cambridge, Ohio on July 18, 1921, Glenn later attended Muskingum College earning a Bachelor of Science degree. He is survived by his childhood sweetheart, Anna M. (nee Castor). The couple were married for seventy-three years, resulting in two children and two grandchildren.

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