Surprise Meteor Shower Possible, Gamma Delphinids’ First Appearance Since 1930
Insomniacs rejoice, for the sleepless who gaze skyward at about 3:30 a.m. local time on June 11 (in sleepers’ parlance, the middle of the night on Monday June 10) just might be rewarded with a glimpse of a mysterious, extremely rare meteor shower.
The gamma Delphinid meteors have not been seen in these parts since 1930, before many of our Elders were born. Unlike with past showers—the Geminids, Orionids and Eta Aquirids, to name but a few—these will last an hour maximum, rather than all night or several days, astronomers say.
Space.com calls it “a brief flurry of meteor activity,” if anything happens at all, and calls it “part of a mystery that goes back more than 80 years.” If something does happen, though, it could be spectacular, since they’ll be moving at 127,500 miles per hour, according to NASA.
It all started on the evening of June 11, 1930, when three members of the American Meteor Society noticed a spurt of meteors between 10:15 and 10:45 p.m.
“What made this observation particularly unusual was that the moon was very nearly full and shining brightly in the southeast sky,” said Space.com. “Usually a bright moon hides all but the brightest stars, and it certainly was not the kind of night anyone expected to see very many meteors. And yet, for half an hour, three reputable meteor observers were seeing meteors—in spite of the bright moonlight.”
Those were apparently the only three witnesses to this purported celestial event, Space.com said. But now, NASA astronomers are postulating that it could indeed have happened.
“Peter Jenniskins, research scientist with the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center, has examined dust outbursts from long-period comets and suggests the Gamma Delphinids may return for a brief moment of splendor, as Earth passes through this stream of cometary debris not seen since 1930,” reports UniverseToday.com.
NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office will conduct a live chat tonight from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time with Bill Cooke. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, including Turtle Island, are in a prime position to see any streaks of light that appear.
“In addition to offering viewing tips about the elusive gamma Delphinid shower, the chat will also include a live Ustream telescope view of the skies over Huntsville, Alabama,” NASA said on its website, where it posts instructions on how to sign into the chat. NASA is also seeking photos and videos of the shower, if it appears. Those can be uploaded onto a Gamma Delphinid Flickr group that the agency has already set up.