Meteor Activity Outlook for March 6-12, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

March is the slowest month for meteor activity. No major annual showers are active and only two very weak minor showers produce activity this month. The sporadic rates continue a slow decline as seen from the mid-northern latitudes and mid-southern rates reach a first half minimum. There is not much to look forward to this month expect for the evening fireballs that seem to peak this time of year from the northern hemisphere. This could be due to the fact the antapex radiant lies highest above the horizon this time of  year during the evening hours.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Sunday March 7th.  At this time the moon lies ninety degrees west of the sun and rises near midnight local standard time (LST). The moon will be a nuisance this weekend, but as the week progresses, its impact lessens. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~2 for those in the northern hemisphere and ~3 for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~7 from the northern hemisphere and ~9 as seen from the southern hemisphere. The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning March 6/7. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 11:56 (179) -01. This area of the sky lies in western Virgo, three degrees southeast of the fourth magnitude star Beta Virginis. This radiant is best placed near 0100 local standard time (LST) when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Due to the large size of this radiant, any meteor radiating from eastern Leo, Sextans, Crater, or Virgo could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be ~2 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Gamma Normids (GNO)

The Gamma Normids (GNO) is a weak shower best seen from the southern hemisphere. This shower is only visible south of forty degrees north latitude. The further one is located south (down to 50S) the better the radiant is situated in the sky. Expected rates from the southern hemisphere is only 1 per hour, even with the radiant located high in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 16:12 (243) -52. This position lies in central Norma, two degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Gamma Normae. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

The list below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Shower Name                RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                        km/s   NH    SH
ANT Antihelions          11h 56m  -01    30     2     2
GNO Gamma Normids        16h 12m  -52    56    <1     1

RA - Right Ascension
DEC - Declination
Vel - Velocity relative to Earth (in km per sec)
Rates - Rate of visible meteors per hour from a
        dark site
NH - Northern Hemisphere
SH - Southern Hemisphere
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About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

3 Responses to Meteor Activity Outlook for March 6-12, 2010

  1. Doug Snyder says:

    Hi Carl, and congratulations on your outstanding achievements in the endeavors of video meteors! This report is preliminary as I have more data to check on, but my recently activated all-sky camera located in Palominas, AZ (southeast of Tucson) recorded a flurry of meteoric/fireball activity mainly in the constellation of Sextans during the evening of March 8, 2010 (local)from about 2230 hrs to 2400 hrs (local MST). It appears that some activity commenced at about that time at the coordinates of RA 10h50m and Declination of -10, but continued for some time in that area of the sky and also near or within the constellation of Crater. I also viewed the MMT all-sky camera video for that evening, but it appears to be covered in moisture, and lots of dead pixels! I’ll continue to examine my own video and learn more of this activity. I’ll be very interested in hearing about other reports or findings. Thank you!

  2. Louise Ralston says:

    Meteor sighting March 8-9 2010 in San Mateo, California. Observed from my kitchen window at 2:26 AM. A huge meteor arcing over the 40 ft. trees across the street. It was moving from South to North and I saw it for about 2 seconds then it disappeared. It was mostly white with some green-a bumpy ball that glowed like neon lights.The trail was as wide as the object and it was white also. I thought at first that it was a burning airplane, but I realized it must be a meteor. It was the thrill of a lifetime and somewhat frightening. It was, from front to the end the same length as the 40 ft. trees are tall.

  3. Jessica Smith says:

    I live in Northern Louisiana and on March 8, 2010, about 4:30pm-5:00pm, we heard an extremely loud “BOOM!” It shook houses and even broke windows. About the same time a woman in central Louisiana claimed to have seen a large gray object in the sky but said it had no flames…. Still a mystery.

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