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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Feb 5, 2007 21:43:57 GMT -6
Meteor Shower Was Unexpected
COLUMBIA - The sky wasn't falling. But celestial pyrotechnics Sunday night had some mid-Missourians thinking like Chicken Little.
"We got a couple of calls - one from the Cascade, one from the Rockaway Village area - stating that they had seen some bright lights in the sky," said Teresa Hunt of Columbia Joint Communications, the department which handles emergency calls for response agencies.
Law enforcement agencies across the Midwest got similar calls about Sunday night's light show. The North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado said people saw meteors breaking up in the atmosphere.
The last shower was in January and the next will be in April. What made Sunday's events odd is that scientists said they really didn't know it was coming.
"There was some event in the sky - perhaps a meteor shower, or whatever. We were not expecting anything like that - usually astronomers know when these things happen," said H.R. Chandrasehkar, chairman of MU's physics and astronomy department.
But Chandrasehkar said not knowing the phenomenon was coming is not cause for alarm.
"Astronomers are very careful about looking for asteroids. So, in other words, we don't need to worry about such surprises," Chandrasehkar said. "But, on the other hand, if there's a little bit of rock that fell in there, it's not going to really hurt anybody."
The shower didn't hurt anybody, but it did make them very curious.
To learn more about the meteors, constellations and other space topics, the Laws Observatory on the MU campus is open to the public every Wednesday evening.