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Archive for October, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 8:42pm EST

Megastorm Sandy’s march of destruction claimed at least 110 lives and left more than 8.5 million people without electricity by late Tuesday, in one of the largest storms ever to strike the East Coast.

In this handout GOES satellite image provided by NASA, Hurricane Sandy, pictured at 1255 UTC, moves inland across the mid-Atlantic region on October 30, 2012 in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a ‘major disaster’ for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

Sun Halo Created by the Outer Bands of Hurricane Sandy

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 1:25pm EST

Halos around the Sun and Moon are fairly common. They occur when high thin clouds containing millions of tiny ice crystals cover much of the sky. Each ice crystal acts like a miniature lens. Because most of the crystals have a similar elongated hexagonal shape, light entering one crystal face and exiting through the opposing face refracts 22 degrees, which corresponds to the radius of the Sun Halo.

Our Little Piece of Halley’s Comet

Saturday, October 20th, 2012 4:31pm EST

A Piece of Halley’s Comet Rains Down on Charlotte
(Click for larger image)

Our Live Sky Cam managed to a snap a shot of an Orionid meteor streaking down on Charlotte. The Orionid meteors are debris left behind by Halley’s Comet.  The Earth passes through the comet’s orbit twice a year, although the comet itself only comes around every 75 years.

Actually seeing an Orionid in the Live Sky Cam was a pleasant surprise because the viewing angle was far from ideal. Our Live Sky Cam is pointed toward the west horizon which was about 90 degrees away from the constellation of Orion at 5am EDT when this image was recorded.  The Orionids radiate from the direction of the Orion constellation — hence their name.

Here’s a bright Perseid meteor we photographed in August.  A much more spectacular flash but not nearly as pedigreed as the Orionid.

Orionid Meteor Shower to Peak This Weekend (Oct 20-21)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 10:58pm EST

The 2012 Orionid meteor shower will peak this weekend! Look for the greatest numbers of meteors to streak the sky in the dark hours before dawn on Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, with forecasters giving the nod to Sunday. Fortunately, the waxing crescent moon will set way before the prime time hours for watching the Orionids.

The Orionid meteor shower isn’t one of the year’s richest, but it’s pretty. Every year it produces up to 20 “shooting stars” visible per hour before dawn given good sky conditions.

The Orionids have an illustrious parentage. Like the Eta Aquarids of May, they are bits of debris shed long ago by Halley’s Comet. The two showers are essentially one and the same; Earth intersects a single, broad stream of meteoroids at two places in its orbit on opposite sides of the Sun.

Sky & Telescope

Frontpage Story in the Mint Hill Times

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 3:00pm EST

Kudos to writer Amanda Waters for the great story and helping get the word out about MintHillWeather.com !  You can also read the article online at The Mint Hill Times.


Correction to the print article:
Our local astronomy organization is the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club

Can you spot the Moon?

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 9:00am EST

This is one of the first good sightings of the Moon since the Live Sky Cam was installed in late July. The Moon’s position near the horizon varies over the course of the year due to the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis and, to a less degree, the tilt of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth.  The Moon has been moving from South to North (left to right in the image below) lately toward Moonset and is now regularly traveling through the Live Sky Cam’s field of view. Hint: look left of center in the photo below

Technical details:
Waning Gibbous, 17.9 days old, ~88% illumination, azimuth 278d 45m, altitude 18d 44m at 8:49 a.m. EDT on 10/03/2012

Moonset over Mint Hill (8:49 a..m. on Wednesday, 10/03/2012)
[click on image for a larger view]