Rare Daytime Sextantid meteor observed over Arizona

Rare Daytime Sextantid meteor observed over Arizona

NASA's Network of All Sky Meteor Cameras captured an unusual fireball - Daytime Sextantid - over Arizona before sunrise on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

The cameras on Kitt Peak, Mount Lemmon, and Mount Hopkins were able to catch the fireball in mid-flight, enabling a solid triangulation of its orbit and allowing scientists to identify it as a Daytime Sextantid.

Daytime Sextantids (DSX) are rare because of the fact that "the radiant lies close to the sun and these meteors are only visible during the last couple of hours before dawn," according to the American Meteor Society. The agency added that spotting any DSX activity would be a remarkable achievement.


Image credit: NASA All Sky Fireball Network

DSX is related to the Geminid meteors of December. According to Space Weather, both belong to the Phaethon-Geminid complex, which is "a complicated swarm of debris that includes "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon along with asteroids 1999 YC and 2005 UD."

The Geminid branch of the complex gives one of the best meteor showers of the year, but the DSX branch is more challenging to observe. Its meteors fly out of the Sextans constellation, which is very near the Sun at this point of the year.

Most of the action happens in broad daylight with only a few fireballs showing during the twilight, just before sunrise.

Featured image credit: NASA All Sky Fireball Network


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