A meteor shower lit up skies above the Bay Area and throughout California on Wednesday night, and they will appear with increasing frequency through Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Reports of bright fireballs streaking across the skies were reported from as far north as Mendocino County. A cloud-free sky and the warm temperatures that are pushing out the clouds will make the showers more and more visible as the weekend approaches.

Initial reports suggested that the fireballs are part of the Orionid meteor shower, which will peak from sundown Saturday through sunrise Sunday. The meteor shower is so named because all of the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Orion. Orionid meteors are the fastest of all meteor showers and strike the atmosphere at 148,000 mph, and many leave persistent trails.

Residents reported seeing the bright lights and hearing a loud boom throughout Northern California, with sightings as far as Santa Cruz County. Some reported feeling a thud, like an earthquake. Loud booms are often associated with meteor showers.

Some astronomers doubt that it was an Orionid because it reportedly traveled slowly across the sky, without originating from the constellation Orion, and was followed by an exploding “boom” which might be more typical of a stony or iron meteorite. NASA meteorite experts are currently investigating this fall which is thought to have landed in the hills above Martinez, CA.

When you go out to watch a meteor shower, bring your iPhone with you. With the Meteor Counter app, you can easily capture meteor observations with an innovative “piano key” interface. As you tap the keys, Meteor Counter records critical data for each meteor: time, magnitude, latitude, and longitude, along with optional verbal annotations.

Afterward, these data are automatically uploaded to NASA researchers for analysis.

Meteor Counter also provides a news feed and event calendar, which are updated by professional scientists to keep you informed of the latest meteor happenings and upcoming showers. It’s everything a meteor hound needs to get informed and get involved!

Posted by: Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: Rick Hurd; http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_21797120/meteor-showers-light-up-bay-area-skies?source=most_viewed

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