All posts by tvcomm

Geminids Meteor Shower Dec 13-14 – the best meteor shower of the year! Key facts

A Geminid Meteor in 2010 by Wally Pacholka

The Geminids Meteor Shower peaks on Dec 13-14 2015. The shower is being dubbed “the best shower of the year”, so don’t miss it!

Key facts:
Shower activity runs from Dec 7th through Dec 16th, peaking at 16h UT on Dec 14th.
The peak ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) is predicted to be 100-110.
The shower should be visible all night from mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere, weather permitting.
The moon will not interfere with viewing due to it being a new moon on Dec 11th.
Radio observers will be able to monitor activity whatever the weather!

The Geminids are often bright and can be seen in the evening sky as well as between midnight and dawn. The shower occurs when the earth passes through the debris stream from an object called 3200 Phaton, which is either a rocky and dead comet or an asteroid. The meteors are mostly yellow or white, with up to 10% appearing as red/blue or red.

The Geminids radiant is located in the constellation Gemini, near the bright star Castor.


Sources: EarthSky; PopAstro; Nasa; Slooh.

Falcon 9 space debris recovered from sea off Isles of Scilly, UK #spacedebris

Press release from UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency:


A piece of metal recovered from the sea off the Isles of Scilly looks to be debris from an American space rocket.
The metal – a large section of alloy about 10 metres by 4metres, was spotted on the surface between Bryher and Tresco.
It was reported to the UK Coastguard this afternoon, which immediately issued a warning to shipping in the area.

It was recovered with the help of local professional boatman, before being towed into New Grimsby and is currently securely held on the beach at Tresco.

Tris Newey/Martin Leslie said, ‘The markings show an American flag. It looks like it’s an American rocket and seems most likely to be the unmanned Space X Falcon 9 which blew up shortly after take-off from Cape Canaveral in June.

‘We’re grateful for all those who helped in its recovery – it was a great example of the community working together.’

Please credit pictures to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency…



Heather Skull | Press Officer

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Spring Place | 105 Commercial Road | Southampton | SO15 1EG

Tel: +44 23 8032 9401


On Twitter:


The following recovery images are copyright of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


007_USA Rocket MCA

005_USA Rocket MCA

003_USA Rocket_MCA



Be afraid! Direct hit predicted for solar storm on Nov 7th! #aurora

Note: this post has been updated


Be afraid! This one will hit us between the eyes and all around the head! The CME, launched by AR 2443 earlier today, will hit us squarely (err, roundly!) sometime on Saturday 7th Nov. Expect big auroras, possible power outages and communications disruption.

Update Nov 5: NOAA is currently predicting MINOR GEOMAGNETIC STORM levels starting late on Nov 7th.


The predicted geomagnetic was storm not as potent as predicted, but a bigger storm is coming at the end of the week!

This article has been updated – see end of post.

The storm was not well connected with earth’s magnetic field, causing it not to interact as well as predicted. Despite this, auroras were being reported down to 50 deg N in Europe on the evening of Nov 3rd.

If you missed them, don’t dispair! A new and more powerful solar storm is expected to hit earth at the end of the week, on Nov 8th and 9th.

WSA/ENLIL Prediction Nov 8 / 22h UT

Update Nov 4th:

Within 12 hours of writing this, the solar wind prediction has changed, and the end of the week “storm” is looking a bit  subdued. Compare this graphic to the one above predicting the wind at 22h UT on Nov 8th and you can see that the “storm” passing earth is somewhat deminished. I just goes  to show that you really can’t predict things more than a couple of days ahead…


G1 Geomagnetic storm now in progress – G3 predicted within 4 hours #aurora

The effects of the predicted geomagnetic storm are starting to hit earth now. Aurora has already been seen as far south as Iowa in the USA. The solar wind speed hit the accelerator at about 07h20 UT, almost doubling to nearly 600km per second (see red unlerline). The magnetic polarity (Bz – green unlerline) is currently north – it must swing south for aurora to happen.


High energy proton flux levels measured at the ACE satellite are also kicking upwards quite dramatically:


NOAA is predicting G3 major storm conditions today and tomorrow, slowly reducing to G2 levels on the 4th. Be alert for aurora tonight well down into the mid-latitudes!

Chart courtesy @TamithaSkov

Strong G3 geomagnetic storm predicted within the next 48 hours #aurora

NOAA is predicting a 90% chance of a severe G3 geomagnetic storm on Nov 2nd, and is predicting a G2 storm for the 3rd. Aurora watchers should be alert for aurora down to mid-latitudes (including the UK and northern Europe) on Monday and Tuesday nights. The magnetic polarity of the storm is key to knowing if it will interact with the Earth’s magnetic field or not. If it swings south (opposite to that of the Earth’s field), aurora becomes more likely. If it stays north, then it tends to cancel out with the Earth’s field and the storm turns into a bit of a damp squib. We won’t know the polarity until the storm hits NASA’s ACE satellite, which is positioned a million miles sunward from Earth, orbiting the L1 Lagrange point.  This only gives us 45 minutes to an hour notice of what is to come.

Keep an eye on the indicators on my solar and auroral monitoring page for live information (data from SWPC) and follow me on Twitter for automated auroral updates.

Solar wind speeds will increase to around 800km/s during the storm, which is coming from a large coronal hole which rotated back into view a few days ago.

AR 2443 Philippe Tosi, France (Nov 1st 2015)
Image by Philippe Tosi, France (Nov 1st 2015)

Of additional interest is this “monster” sunspot group AR 2443, which is over 175,000 miles across and is bursting with energy in its “beta-gamma-delta” magnetic field. It will soon be facing the Earth, and NOAA predicts the chance for M-class flares in the next 24 and 48 hours is 55%, and the chance for X-class flares 15% over the same time periods.