Quadrantid meteor shower to light up night sky
A false-color image of a rare early Quadrantid was taken by a NASA meteor camera in 2010.
January 2nd, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Quadrantid meteor shower to light up night sky

Meteor watchers in North America can expect to see 60 to 200 meteors an hour streak across the sky early Wednesday.

NASA says the Quadrantid meteor shower should be perfect for viewing around 3 a.m. local time Wednesday after the waxing gibbous moon sets.

But the light show won't last long, NASA says - only a few hours.

The Quadrantids were first noted in 1825 and got their name from the constellation of Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer considered a constellation by astronomers, according to NASA.

The material that is burning up in Earth's atmosphere during the Quadrantids likely comes from a comet that broke into fragments centuries ago, NASA says.

"After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth's surface," a NASA press release says.

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Scientists: Dozens of hybrid sharks found off Australia
The hybrid shark contains DNA from both the Australian blacktip shark and the common blacktip shark, researchers say.
January 2nd, 2012
10:59 AM ET

Scientists: Dozens of hybrid sharks found off Australia

The world's first hybrid sharks have been discovered in substantial numbers off the coast of Australia, and scientists say it may be an indication the creatures are adapting to climate change.

Australian researchers say they've found 57 animals that are a cross between the Australian blacktip shark and the common blacktip shark, two closely related but genetically distinct species.


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Filed under: Discoveries • News • On Earth
January 2nd, 2012
10:30 AM ET

GRAIL spacecraft traveling around the moon

NASA's twin lunar orbiters helped scientists kick off 2012 as planned - the spacecraft are now circling the moon, and they will study our celestial neighbor in unprecedented ways.

The Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft are going to help scientists create a map of the gravitational field of the moon, giving insight into what's below the moon's surface. This information may help illuminate some fundamental questions about the moon's formation.

GRAIL-A reached the moon's orbit Saturday, NASA said. GRAIL-B attained lunar orbit Sunday at 5:43 p.m. EST. They have been traveling since their launch on September 10.

The GRAIL science mission will begin in March, when the spacecraft will be orbiting at an altitude about 34 miles from the moon's surface.

More about GRAIL from CNN

NASA's GRAIL mission page

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • In Space


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