Expect thousands of meteors to streak through the sky this month.
They are the Arietid and zeta Perseid meteors — the most intense daytime meteor showers of the year. Every year in June, Earth passes through the densest part of three interplanetary meteoroid streams.
The Arietid possibly consisting of debris from the asteroid Icarus, produces about 60 shooting stars each hour from the direction of the constellation Aries. The zeta Perseid debris stream produces up to 40 meteors per hour from the constellation Perseus. The Beta Taurid debris stream produces up to 40 meteors per hour.
Sadly for star gazers, all three constellations are very close to the Sun when these showers reach maximum activity. The blinding glare of the Sun makes most “Arietids”, “zeta Perseids” and “Beta Taurids” invisible to the naked eye.
The Arietid meteors are active from a radiant located in eastern Aries. This is only 20 degrees from the Sun so activity can only be seen shortly before the onset on dawn. Any activity would likely appear as ‘Earthgrazers,’ which are long meteors lasting several seconds shooting upward from the horizon.
The best time to look for the elusive Arietids is just before sunrise starting on June 8th up to June 9th. Meteor watchers say it’s worth looking because bright, slow-moving Earthgrazers are so beautiful.
The zeta Perseids, which peak a week later on June 13, are even more difficult to spot than the Arietids. The radiant of that shower is only 16 degrees from the Sun and less than 5 degrees above the horizon at sunrise on the day of the shower’s expected maximum.
Arietid and zeta Perseid meteoroids strike Earth’s atmosphere at about 75,000 mph. As they move rapidly through the air, these specks of space dust heat and ionize the gas around them.
During major meteor showers like the Arietids and zeta Perseids, radio signals from TV stations, RADAR facilities, and AM/FM transmitters are constantly bouncing off these short-lived meteor trails.
The month of June comes to an end with another daytime meteor shower, the beta Taurids, which peak around June 29 with as many as 40 meteors per hour. The beta Taurids are particularly interesting because researchers suspect it may be responsible for the Tunguska explosion of 1908. This June the Taurid debris swarm will make its closest approach to Earth since 1975. Many astronomers, including Brown, will use large telescopes to search for signs of hazardous objects as the swarm passes by.
It turns out that June is the best month of the year for daytime meteor showers.
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