One of the most explosiveof the year is active and set to hit an apex of activity soon, which is good news if you’re into seeing a little fire in the sky.
The Southern Taurid and Northern Taurid showers are active now and tend to produce a lot of sizzle in the form of fireballs that light up the skies. The Southern Taurid branch has already peaked, but can continue to contribute to the overall fireball count. The Northern Taurids are expected to reach maximum activity Wednesday night and into the following morning, according to the American Meteor Society, or AMS.
The Taurids are produced when Earth drifts through a cloud of debris left behind by Comet 2P/Encke around this time each year. Small chunks of dust might be seen burning up in our upper atmosphere as “shooting stars,” while larger bits of space rock can produce more dramatic fireballs.
The Taurids aren’t as well known as other meteor showers like the Perseids or even the Leonids, which are also active in November. They don’t produce as many meteors per hour as those more famous showers, but the Taurids are well known for generally adding a healthy dose of fireballs to the night sky in late October and early November.
About every seven years the Taurids are especially active, but we aren’t due to see that again until 2022. Still, you could see a handful of shooting stars and perhaps even a fireball per hour if you venture out around midnight with ideal conditions.
2020 Perseid meteor shower photos shine bright in a dark year
See all photos
It’s possible to see them earlier in the evening, if a little less likely. Closer to dusk you may be able to see a rare “Earth-grazer” along the horizon, however.
Whenever you go Taurid hunting, start by getting as far away from light pollution as you can and find a spot with a broad, unobstructed view of the sky. Bundle up if needed, and then just lie back, let your eyes adjust, relax and watch.
Taurids can appear to emanate from near the constellation Taurus the bull, which is also next to the famed star cluster, the Pleiades. There’s no need to focus on this part of the sky, however, as the Taurids can be visible in other parts of the night sky, but they’ll generally be headed away from Taurus.
Enjoy a little fire in the sky and pass along any epic fireball photos you happen to catch to me, @EricCMack, on Twitter.
Source: – CNET
VIDEO: Massive fireball lights up the sky in parts of Canada and the US – KamloopsBCNow
Some people in parts of Canada and the United States witnessed a massive fireball streak through the sky yesterday.
Witnesses reported seeing a flash of light, and the moment was also caught on camera.
A massive #fireball lit up the sky over parts of the United States and Canada earlier today. Check out this footage that was caught from our #EarthCam‘s in Toronto. Could it be a meteor?? 👀☄️ @TourCNTower pic.twitter.com/Qxdz168p0I
— EarthCam (@EarthCam) December 2, 2020
Footage from the EarthCam at the CN Tower in Toronto shows the flash of light and points out the meteor-like object soar through the sky.
The Geminid meteor shower is taking place this month, and promises to be one of the most active meteor showers of the year.
Nasa sets prices for Moon dust – Bangkok Post
WASHINGTON: The US space agency Nasa awarded contracts to four companies on Thursday to collect lunar samples for US$1 to $15,000, rock-bottom prices that are intended to set a precedent for future exploitation of space resources by the private sector.
“I think it’s kind of amazing that we can buy lunar regolith from four companies for a total of $25,001,” said Phil McAlister, director of Nasa’s Commercial Spaceflight Division.
The contracts are with Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado for $1; ispace Japan of Tokyo for $5,000; ispace Europe of Luxembourg for $5,000; and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, California for $15,000.
The companies plan to carry out the collection during already scheduled unmanned missions to the Moon in 2022 and 2023.
The firms are to collect a small amount of lunar soil known as regolith from the Moon and to provide imagery to NASA of the collection and the collected material.
Ownership of the lunar soil will then be transferred to NASA and it will become the “sole property of NASA for the agency’s use under the Artemis program.”
Under the Artemis program, Nasa plans to land a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and lay the groundwork for sustainable exploration and an eventual mission to Mars.
“The precedent is a very important part of what we’re doing today,” said Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations.
“We think it’s very important to establish the precedent that the private sector entities can extract, can take these resources but Nasa can purchase and utilize them to fuel not only NASA’s activities, but a whole new dynamic era of public and private development and exploration on the Moon,” Gold said.
“We must learn to generate our own water, air and even fuel,” he said. “Living off the land will enable ambitious exploration activities that will result in awe inspiring science and unprecedented discoveries.”
Any lessons learned on the Moon would be crucial to an eventual mission to Mars.
“Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it’s so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars,” Gold said.
“We want to demonstrate explicitly that you can extract, you can utilize resources, and that we will be conducting those activities in full compliance with the Outer Space Treaty,” he said. “That’s the precedent that’s important. It’s important for America to lead, not just in technology, but in policy.”
The United States is seeking to establish a precedent because there is currently no international consensus on property rights in space and China and Russia have not reached an understanding with the United States on the subject.
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is vague but it deems outer space to be “not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”
Chinese moon mission begins return to earth with lunar rocks – Global News
A Chinese spacecraft lifted off from the moon Thursday night with a load of lunar rocks, the first stage of its return to Earth, the government space agency reported.
Chang’e 5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon and the first to take off from it again, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for Beijing’s space program, which also has an orbiter and rover headed to Mars.
The Chang’e 5 touched down Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon’s near side. Its mission: collect about two kilograms (four pounds) of lunar rocks and bring them back to Earth, the first return of samples since Soviet spacecraft did so in the 1970s. Earlier, the U.S. Apollo astronauts brought back hundreds of pounds of moon rocks.
The landing site is near a formation called the Mons Rumker and may contain rocks billions of years younger than those retrieved earlier.
The ascent vehicle lifted off from the moon shortly after 11 p.m. Beijing time Thursday (1500 GMT) and was due to rendezvous with a return vehicle in lunar orbit, then transfer the samples to a capsule, according to the China National Space Administration. The moon rocks and debris were sealed inside a special canister to avoid contamination.
It wasn’t clear when the linkup would occur. After the transfer, the ascent module would be ejected and the capsule would remain in lunar orbit for about a week, awaiting the optimal time to make the trip back to Earth.
Chinese officials have said the capsule with the samples is due to land on Earth around the middle of the month. Touchdown is planned for the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, where China’s astronauts have made their return in Shenzhou spacecraft.
Chang’e 5’s lander, which remained on the moon, was capable of scooping samples from the surface and drilling two metres (about six feet).
While retrieving samples was its main task, the lander also was equipped to extensively photograph the area, map conditions below the surface with ground penetrating radar and analyze the lunar soil for minerals and water content.
Right before the ascent vehicle lifted off, the lander unfurled what the space administration called the first free-standing Chinese flag on the moon. The agency posted an image — apparently taken from the lander — of the ascend vehicle firing its engines as it took off.
Chang’e 5 has revived talk of China one day sending astronauts to the moon and possibly building a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects.
China launched its first temporary orbiting laboratory in 2011 and a second in 2016. Plans call for a permanent space station after 2022, possibly to be serviced by a reusable space plane.
While China is boosting co-operation with the European Space Agency and others, interactions with NASA are severely limited by U.S. concerns over the secretive nature and close military links of the Chinese program.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
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