Late May Meteors (May 23-31)

It has been awhile since I posted. Though the weather hasn’t always been great, lots of clouds and even a day of rain, my camera has been able to detect a few meteors per night.

The low rates of detected meteors are typical of May. Luckily every day brings us closer to the exciting months of July and August when dozens of minor and a handful of major showers are active. The high level of activity continues into the fall and winter months before tailing off again in January.

This past week saw the end of activity from the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. These meteors from Comet Halley peaked in early May but low levels of activity are possible for almost 2 months. We won’t experience another good shower until July.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA
TUS  2009-05-31  06h 09m  3   2   1   
TUS  2009-05-30  05h 55m  10  6   4
TUS  2009-05-29  08h 03m  7   4   3
TUS  2009-05-28  08h 05m  7   4   2   1
TUS  2009-05-27  08h 06m  10  7   1   2
TUS  2009-05-26  08h 06m  7   5   2   0
TUS  2009-05-25  07h 48m  4   3   1   0
TUS  2009-05-24  06h 41m  4   2   2   0
TUS  2009-05-23  08h 11m  2   2   0   0

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids

May 15/16/17/18 Meteors

The low meteor rates of May continue. This was especially true over Tucson (or at least the small patch of sky I monitor) on the night of May 16/17. That night was clear with only a few bouts of very light cirrus. Still my system detected ZERO meteors! I cannot remember another night that was clear and produced nothing. My camera was definitely working since it picked up a police helicopter that was circling overhead. Interestingly, rates were normal (10 and 8 per night) on the nights preceding and following the 16/17th.

In San Diego, Bob has been fighting clouds. From his notes:”The past two nights have seen mostly cloudy skies as is usual this time of year along the Pacific coast. I did manage short sessions just before dawn on May 16 and just after dark on Saturday evening.”

Last week, I was proclaiming how great the weather has been for observing here in Tucson. In fact I said: “The weather is great. May is in the middle of Tucson’s dry season. Though high cirrus is possible and you can’t rule out the rare rain event, it is usually hot and bone dry. Yesterday’s high was 101F and the humidity was a paltry 4%.”

I should have known better. Yesterday so an impulse of moisture into southern Arizona. Though not much happened we did get a few sprinkles and even heard a rumble of thunder. According to the forecast, rain and thunder is a possibility for the remainder of the week. Though the summer monsoon usually doesn’t begin until late June or early July, the fact that we are getting some moisture in mid-May shows that it isn’t too far away. Personally I’d trade many a summer night of observing for some great thunderstorms and rain.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA
TUS  2009-05-18  07h 30m  8   3   5   0
TUS  2009-05-17  06h 00m  0   0   0   0
SDG  2009-05-17  02h 00m  3   2   1   0
TUS  2009-05-16  08h 20m  10  7   2   1
SDG  2009-05-16  02h 30m  5   2   1   2

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids

May 13/14/15 Meteors

The number of detected meteors was down at both Tucson and San Diego the past 2 nights. In San Diego, this is partially due to clouds and fog. Tucson has no excuse since it has been days since we’ve seen a cloud.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA
TUS  2009-05-15  07h 48m  7   5   1   1
SDG  2009-05-15  03h 02m  11  8   1   2
TUS  2009-05-14  07h 30m  4   2   2   0
SDG  2009-05-14  03h 49m  4   3   1   0

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids

May 11/12/13 Meteors

Rates have come down a bit from last week but are still healthy. This is especially true since the prime early morning meteor hours are hampered by the bright Moon. The 2 active showers from last week have ramped down to very low levels of activity. In fact, the Eta Lyrids are no longer being followed by the MetRec automated software. The Eta Aquarids will be followed for a few more days.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA ELY
TUS  2009-05-13  06h 51m  10  8   1   1
TUS  2009-05-12  08h 17m  7   3   3   0   1

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids
ELY - Eta Lyrids

May 9/10/11 Meteors

This is more like it. After 2+ months of very low meteor rates, May brings rates to be excited about. This is due to 3 factors. 1) The weather is great. May is in the middle of Tucson’s dry season. Though high cirrus is possible and you can’t rule out the rare rain event, it is usually hot and bone dry. Yesterday’s high was 101F and the humidity was a paltry 4%. 2) We have 2 active showers producing a few meteors per night, the Eta Aquarids and Eta Lyrids. 3) The number of background Sporadics are slowly increasing from their annual low in the Spring.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA ELY
TUS  2009-05-11  07h 42m  9   4   2   1   2
TUS  2009-05-10  08h 29m  15  8   2   4   1

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids
ELY - Eta Lyrids

May 5/6/7/8/9 Meteors

The Eta Aquarids were predicted to peak during the evening of May 5. For observers in North America, this means the mornings of May 5 and 6 should have produced the most meteors. Interestingly, the number of Eta Aquarids being detected nightly is not much lower than the nights around the peak. This suggests the ETAs have a broad peak with maximum activity being seen over many nights. This is in contrast to showers like the Quadrantids or the Lyrids of 2 weeks ago that have narrow peaks that last for only a day. The ETA are more similar to the Orionids of October which is not surprising since both showers are produced by Comet Halley.

Though much less active than the Eta Aquarids, the Eta Lyrids are also producing a meteor or so every night or two. The minor shower is derived from Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock, a comet which passed extremely close to the Earth in May of 1983.

Bob made a trek into the Southern California mountains to find darker skies. His results from the nights bracketing the ETA peak are included in the table below. From his notes: “Skies have been mostly cloudy at night in the San Diego area since the Lyrid maximum. In fact I had to drive to the local mountains to record any activity from the Eta Aquariids.”

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA ELY
TUS  2009-05-09  07h 50m  15  6   0   8   1
TUS  2009-05-08  08h 29m  14  6   1   7   0
TUS  2009-05-07  08h 36m  9   4   0   3   2
SDG  2009-05-07  02h 00m  38  18  2   17  1
TUS  2009-05-06  06h 44m  9   1   0   8   0
SDG  2009-05-06  02h 00m  44  22  3   19  0

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids
ELY - Eta Lyrids

May 2/3/4/5 Meteors

Patchy high clouds have been the norm the past few weeks. The last 3 nights were no exception. Even with the troublesome clouds, a number of Eta Aquarids were observed. Last night was the peak even though the rates were no higher than the previous 2 nights. The clouds may be the reason for that.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ETA
TUS  2009-05-05  06h 37m  5   1   0   4
TUS  2009-05-04  08h 48m  9   5   0   4
TUS  2009-05-03  05h 54m  7   2   1   4

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ETA - Eta Aquarids

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