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In case some of your wishes have yet to come true, try casting them on some shooting stars this week!
 
Meteors, also known as “falling stars” or “shooting stars”, are streaks of light caused by tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids falling into the Earth’s atmosphere. If any part of the meteoroid survives burning up after hitting the Earth, that remaining bit is called a meteorite.
 
The belief of wishing upon shooting stars dates back to around AD 127 to 151 when Greek astronomer Ptolemy wrote that occasionally, out of curiosity or even boredom, the gods peer down at the Earth from between the spheres. Stars sometimes slip out of this gap, flashing towards the earth.
 
 
SOUTHERN DELTA AQUARIDS METEORS
 
On its website, PAGASA announced that the Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower will occur from July 28 to 31, and is estimated to peak starting on the late night of July 29 until early July 30.
 
These meteors will originate from the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer.
delta
 
(photo from PAGASA)
 
BEST VIEW
 
Though the bright moon might interfere with the activity, those who are lucky might spot about 15 meteors per hour under good sky conditions.
 
According to astronomy website sky.org, the best viewing window for the Southern Delta Aquarids meteor shower from any time zone is between 2:00 to 3:00AM.
 
Before the shower’s peak, find an open sky, away from artificial lights. You may simply look upward at the window or lie down on a reclining chair.
 
Enjoy this astronomical event and remember to share with us your photos!
 
 
 
REFERENCES:

http://earthsky.org/?p=159138
http://www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph/index.php/astronomy/astronomy-in-the-philippines/28-astronomy/424-sky-this-month
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question12.html

Blooming daffodils, a songbird at dawn and the warmth of the afternoon sun – spring is coming!

Vernal Equinox, also called “March Equinox” or “Spring Equinox,” marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).

During equinox, the sun crosses from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. At some point, the sun shines directly over the earth’s equator, providing each of the earth’s hemispheres with almost the same amount of sunlight. A nearly equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes is a result of the tilting of the Earth’s axis neither toward nor away from the sun.

Equinox means the day and night will be in approximately equal length. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the “nearly” equal hours of day and night are due to the refraction of sunlight or bending of the light’s rays, causing the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below it.

This event takes place at the same moment across the world. In the Philippines, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said it will happen on March 21 at 6:45 AM in Philippine Standard Time (PST). It occurs when the motion of the sun allows it to pass the first point of Aries, an imaginary location in the sky.

Since we only have two official seasons here, the vernal equinox does not herald spring, but will mark the start of longer number of hours during the day. Because it takes the sun longer to rise and set, days become a little longer at the higher latitudes. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, higher temperatures will begin as we get longer exposure from sun rays.

Spring as seen from space

Fireball Season

Bill Cooke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the rate of bright meteors or fireballs increases during the weeks around the vernal equinox. In spring, fireballs are more abundant– the nightly rate reaching 10% to 30% higher than usual. Fireballs are meteors brighter than the planet Venus. Studies have shown that aside from the fireballs, meteorites are also common in spring.

Photo: http://apod.nasa.gov/
Photo Credit: http://apod.nasa.gov/

Aurora Season

Scientists found out that the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. The bright dancing lights of the aurora are caused by the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. NASA has deployed a fleet of five spacecraft to study auroras and was named THEMIS (short for “Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms”).

It was discovered that magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are favorable during springtime. During equinox, the magnetic field of the Earth is best oriented for “connecting” with the sun, giving way for solar wind energy to flow in and spark Northern Lights.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
NASA
NOAA
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/31mar_springfireballs/
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/auroras/aurora_live.html#.VQt9rI6UfZE
http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=clifeatures_springequinox
http://www.northernlightscentre.ca/northernlights.html