Daytime Sextantid over Arizona
This weekend, NASA's Network of All Sky Meteor Cameras captured a rare fireball--a "Daytime Sextantid." Here it is disintegrating over Arizona just before sunrise on Saturday, Oct. 5th:

Daytime Sextantids are so rarely seen that the American Meteor Society says "spotting any [Daytime Sextantid] activity would be a notable accomplishment." Consider it noted. NASA cameras on Kitt Peak, Mount Lemmon, and Mount Hopkins caught the fireball in mid-flight, allowing a solid triangulation of its orbit and identification as a Daytime Sextantid.

Daytime Sextantids are related to the Geminid meteors of December. Both belong to the "Phaethon-Geminid Complex"--a complicated swarm of debris that includes "rock comet" 3200 Phaethon along with asteroids 1999 YC and 2005 UD. The ensemble appears to be the remains of a giant breakup of ... something ... thousands of years ago.

While the Geminid branch of the complex produces one of the best meteor showers of the year (mark your calendar: Dec. 14th), the Daytime Sextantid branch is much more difficult to observe. Its meteors fly out of the constellation Sextans, which is, at this time of year, located very close to the sun. Most of the action occurs in broad daylight with only a few fireballs leaking out during the twilight hours immediately before sunrise.