First let’s check in on the aurora. Last night’s display continued well into the morning hours. Our sky clouded after 11:30 p.m. but I’m not complaining. The few openings were enough to relish the lively show.
Chances look good again tonight and tomorrow night for at least minor storms. While the effects of the coronal mass ejection (CME) are waning, reinforcements are now coming from an Earth-directed coronal hole. The holes or openings in the sun’s otherwise zippered up magnetic field allow charged particles like electrons and protons to escape and stream outward into space at high speed. When they flow past our planet, they can sometimes stimulate auroras. Yes, Earth’s getting a pounding … and we love it! I’ll update later this evening.
How about those Draconid meteors? I never saw any. Few reports from other observers around the world have come in to confirm visually what the Canadian radar recorded yesterday. Evidently the meteors nabbed by radar were too small to leave trails bright enough for the naked eye to see. According to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, a strand of dust shed by the shower’s parent comet Giacobini-Zinner in 1959 was responsible for the sudden and brief jump in meteors.
We won’t have to wait long for the next meteor shower, the reliable Orionids brought to us by Halley’s Comet. That one peaks on the mornings of Oct. 20-22. No moon will mar the view.
While the Curiosity Rover jitterbugged its first soil sample to make sure the scoop free of Earth contaminants, its cameras spotted a small, shiny object embedded in the Martian soil. It could be metallic and possibly a piece of hardware or even tape that got loose and dropped to the ground. Mission controllers are suspending soil sampling for the time being as they position the rover’s cameras for a better look. We’ll have an update later today especially if it turns out to be a bolt left behind by an early Martian mechanic.
Tomorrow we’ll have times when you can watch the space station link up with the latest Dragon supply ship launched earlier this week by SpaceX.