Meteor Activity Outlook for January 29-February 4, 2011

February offers the meteor observer in the northern hemisphere a couple of weak showers plus falling sporadic rates. This may not seem too exiting but you never know when surprises are in store. An errant earthgrazer from the Centaurid complex may shoot northward. Better yet, a bright fireball may light up the sky. February is the start of the fireball season, when an abundance of fireballs seem to occur. This lasts well into April and seems to occur mostly during the early evening hours.

Observers in the southern hemisphere are treated to the Alpha Centaurid peak on the 8th plus the entire Centaurid complex of radiants is active all month long. Sporadic rates are slightly less than those seen in January, but still stronger than those witnessed north of the equator.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Thursday February 3rd. At that time the moon lies near the sun and is invisible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will not cause any problems as long as you keep it out of your field of view. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near thirteen no matter your location. 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 (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning January 29/30. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 09:32 (143) +13. This area of the sky lies in western Leo, eight degrees northwest of the first magnitude star Regulus (Alpha Leonis). 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 northwestern Hydra, western Leo, or Cancer could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be near two per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

December Leonis Minorids (DLM)

This is the last week to see activity from the December Leonis Minorids (DLM) until next December. Activity would be produced from a radiant located at 13:07 (197) +13. This position lies in northern Virgo, two degrees northeast of the second magnitude star Vindemiatrix (Epsilon Virginis). These meteors are best seen near 0500 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaked on December 20th so current rates would be less than one per hour no matter your location. At 64km/sec. the December Leonis Minorids produce mostly swift meteors.

Alpha Centaurids (ACE)

The Alpha Centaurids (ACE) are now active from a radiant located at 13:26 (202) -57. This position lies in southeastern Centaurus, three degrees southwest of the second magnitude star Epsilon Centauri. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At this position, these meteors are only visible south of 35 degrees north latitude. The further one is located south (down to 60S) the better the radiant is situated in the sky. Current rates rates from the southern hemisphere is near one per hour. At 56km/sec. the Alpha Centaurids would produce mostly swift meteors.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately ten Sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would also be near twelve per hour as seen from rural observing sites and two per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

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           09h 32m  +13    30     2     2
DLM Dec Leonis Minorids   13h 07m  +13    64    <1    <1
ACE Alpha Centaurids      13h 26m  -57    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

Meteor Activity Outlook for January 22-28, 2011

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.

January sees a peak of sporadic activity for the southern hemisphere while rates seen north of the equator begin a steady downward turn that continues throughout the first half of the year. The sporadic activity is good for both hemispheres, but not as good as it was for northern observers in December. Once the Quadrantids have passed the shower activity for January is very quiet.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Wednesday January 26th. At that time the moon lies ninety degrees west of the sun and rises near midnight local standard time. Meteor observing can be undertaken at this time as long as the moon is not in your field of view. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will remain in the sky the remainder of the night. It will be difficult to view under these circumstances unless you have extremely transparent skies. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near six no matter your location. 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. Rates are reduced by moonlight during this period.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning January 22/23. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week. The detailed descriptions will be continued next week when the moonlight is not as intense.

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           08h 32m  +16    30     2     1
DLM Dec Leonis Minorids   12h 43m  +16    64     1    <1
GMU Gamma Ursa Minorids   15h 16m  +67    42    <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

Jan 13/14 to 21/22 Meteors

All around the world, fireball sightings are being reported. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much going on above my cameras. With the Moon just a few days past Full, rates have been pretty low. Then again, this time of the year is usually a slow one for meteors as no major showers are active, there are only a few minor ones producing any detectable activity, and even the background sporadic rate is near a yearly low.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT DLM XCB SCC
SAL3 2011-01-22   11h 53m   9   7   1   1   -   -
ALLS 2011-01-22   12h 11m   8   4   1   3   -   -
SAL3 2011-01-21   11h 54m   17  15  1   1   -   -
ALLS 2011-01-21   12h 24m   15  13  1   1   -   -
SAL3 2011-01-20   11h 55m   14  14  0   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-01-20   12h 25m   9   8   0   1   -   -
SAL3 2011-01-19   11h 56m   12  9   2   1   -   -
ALLS 2011-01-19   12h 26m   9   9   0   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-01-18   11h 58m   17  13  2   2   -   0
ALLS 2011-01-18   12h 27m   6   4   2   0   -   0
SAL3 2011-01-17   11h 58m   11  10  0   1   -   0
ALLS 2011-01-17   12h 28m   8   8   0   0   -   0
SAL3 2011-01-16   11h 25m   17  14  0   2   -   1
ALLS 2011-01-16   11h 41m   10  9   0   1   -   0
SAL3 2011-01-15   11h 59m   12  9   1   1   0   1
ALLS 2011-01-15   12h 26m   8   7   0   1   0   0
SAL3 2011-01-14   11h 41m   22  16  2   3   1   0
ALLS 2011-01-14   11h 57m   9   8   1   0   0   0

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
Time - 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   
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
XCB - Xi Coronae Borealids
SCC - South Delta Cancrids

Jan 8/9 to 12/13 Meteors

Playing a bit of catch up here with nightly meteor summaries… Same will be the case with the next few posts.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT DLM AHY XCB QUA
SAL3 2011-01-13   12h 02m   27  23  1   2   -   1   -
ALLS 2011-01-13   12h 31m   16  12  2   2   -   0   -
SAL3 2011-01-12   12h 03m   6   5   0   0   -   1   -
ALLS 2011-01-12   12h 25m   2   1   0   0   -   1   -
SAL3 2011-01-11   12h 03m   22  18  3   1   -   0   -
ALLS 2011-01-11   12h 33m   12  9   1   2   -   0   -
SAL3 2011-01-10   12h 04m   15  14  1   0   -   0   0
ALLS 2011-01-10   12h 34m   9   6   1   1   -   0   1
SAL3 2011-01-09   11h 47m   14  8   0   3   0   2   1
ALLS 2011-01-09   12h 02m   10  5   0   1   0   3   1

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
Time - 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   
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
XCB - Xi Coronae Borealids
QUA - Quadrantids

January 31/1 to 7/8 Meteors

The first week of the year marks the end of an annual stretch of high meteor activity that started in July. In particular the week includes the Quadrantids, the last major shower (at least for northern observers) until April (for the barely major Lyrids). The next really good shower won’t be till August (Perseids).

As in most years the Quadrantids were a difficult shower to observe due to its short peak time (only ~12 hours versus 1 or more days for other major showers). This year the peak occurred hours before the radiant was high enough in AZ to see any meteors.

According to visual reports to the IMO, this year’s Quadrantids had a peak ZHR of ~90. By the time the radiant was high enough over AZ to detect any activity the ZHR had fallen to ~30.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT DLM AHY JLE QUA
SAL3 2011-01-08   12h 06m   24  17  4   1   1   -   1
ALLS 2011-01-08   12h 36m   17  12  1   0   1   -   3
SAL3 2011-01-07   12h 06m   14  12  2   0   0   -   0
ALLS 2011-01-07   12h 36m   12  9   0   2   1   -   0
SAL3 2011-01-06   00h 49m   2   1   0   1   0   0   0
ALLS 2011-01-06   12h 37m   2   1   0   1   0   0   0
SAL3 2011-01-05   12h 08m   11  9   0   0   1   0   1
ALLS 2011-01-05   12h 38m   8   6   1   0   0   0   1
SAL3 2011-01-04   10h 02m   38  17  0   3   1   1   16
ALLS 2011-01-04   12h 12m   29  12  0   2   0   0   15
SAL3 2011-01-03   06h 24m   18  10  1   1   0   0   6
ALLS 2011-01-03   12h 39m   10  4   0   1   0   1   4
SAL3 2011-01-02   12h 09m   20  14  3   0   0   1   2
ALLS 2011-01-02   12h 39m   9   7   0   0   0   0   2
SAL3 2011-01-01   10h 24m   17  13  1   0   1   1   1
ALLS 2011-01-01   12h 40m   3   2   0   0   1   0   0

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
Time - 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   
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
JLE - January Leonis Minorids
QUA - Quadrantids

Meteor Activity Outlook for January 8-14, 2011

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.

January sees a peak of sporadic activity for the southern hemisphere while rates seen north of the equator begin a steady downward turn that continues throughout the first half of the year. The sporadic activity is good for both hemispheres, but not as good as it was for northern observers in December. Once the Quadrantids have passed the shower activity for January is very quiet.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Wednesday January 12th. At this time the moon lies ninety degrees east of the sun and sets near midnight LST (Local Standard Time). This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the mid-evening hours allowing a majority of the night to be free from interfering moonlight. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three from the northern hemisphere and three for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eighteen from the northern hemisphere and sixteen 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. Evening rates are reduced by moonlight.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning January 8/9. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 08:04 (121) +19. This area of the sky lies in western Cancer, ten degrees southeast of the bright first magnitude star Pollux (Beta Geminorum). This radiant is best placed near 0100 (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 Gemini, Canis Minor, southern Lynx, northwestern Hydra, or Cancer could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and one per hour for observers located south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

December Leonis Minorids (DLM)

The December Leonis Minorids (DLM) are active from a radiant located at 11:55 (179) +22. This position lies in a blank area near the Leo/Coma Berenices border, seven degrees north of the second magnitude star Denebola (Beta Leonis). These meteors are best seen near 0500 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaked on December 20th so current rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and one per hour as seen from south of the equator. At 64km/sec. the December Leonis Minorids produce mostly swift meteors.

Quadrantids (QUA)

The Quadrantids (QUA) or January Bootids are active from January 1st through the 10th. A sharp maximum occurred between 2300 on January 3 and 0400 Universal Time on the 4th when zenith hourly rates exceeded 100 per hour. The last remnants of this shower for 2011 may be seen this weekend from a radiant located at 15:32 (233) +49. This position lies in a bare region of extreme northern Bootes, ten degrees south of the fourth magnitude star Iota Draconis. At 42 km/sec. the Quadrantids produce meteors of medium velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately fourteen Sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would also be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and two per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Rates are reduced during the evening hours due to moonlight.

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           08h 04m  +19    30     2     1
DLM Dec Leonis Minorids   11h 55m  +22    64     2     1
QUA Quadrantids           15h 32m  +49    42    <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

End of the Year Meteors

The last week or so of the year was fairly low-key meteor-wise with no major showers active. The period also saw 2 storms affect southern AZ. The second of the pair ended SALSA3′s long running streak of consecutive nights with a detection at 95 nights.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT HYD DLM MON COM URS AHY
SAL3 2010-12-31   12h 10m   12  10  1   -   1   -   -   -   0
ALLS 2010-12-31   12h 40m   10  8   0   -   2   -   -   -   0
SAL3 2010-12-30   00h 00m    Rain/clouds all night long
ALLS 2010-12-30   00h 00m    Rain/Clouds all night long
SAL3 2010-12-29   11h 49m   26  21  2   -   3   -   -   -   -
ALLS 2010-12-29   12h 04m   7   6   0   -   1   -   -   -   -
SAL3 2010-12-28   11h 58m   14  13  1   -   0   -   -   -   -
ALLS 2010-12-28   12h 14m   9   7   2   -   0   -   -   -   -
SAL3 2010-12-27   01h 39m   4   3   0   -   1   -   -   -   -
ALLS 2010-12-27   09h 38m   3   3   0   -   0   -   -   -   -
SAL3 2010-12-26   09h 34m   18  17  1   -   0   -   -   -   -
ALLS 2010-12-26   09h 51m   5   5   0   -   0   -   -   -   -
SAL3 2010-12-25   12h 12m   15  9   2   -   4   -   -   -   -
ALLS 2010-12-25   10h 50m   11  9   0   -   0   -   -   -   -
SAL3 2010-12-24   12h 12m   28  23  5   -   0   -   -   0   -
ALLS 2010-12-24   12h 39m   14  9   2   -   4   -   -   0   -
SAL3 2010-12-23   01h 01m   2   2   0   -   0   -   0   0   -
ALLS 2010-12-23   00h 00m    Camera left off due to rain
SAL3 2010-12-22   00h 19m   1   1   0   -   0   -   0   0   -
ALLS 2010-12-22   00h 00m    Camera left off due to rain
SAL3 2010-12-21   00h 19m   1   0   0   0   0   -   1   0   -
ALLS 2010-12-21   00h 19m   1   0   0   0   0   -   1   0   -
SAL3 2010-12-20   06h 46m   14  8   2   0   3   0   1   0   -
ALLS 2010-12-20   11h 21m   11  5   1   0   4   0   1   0   -

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
Time - 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   
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
MON - Monocerotids
COM - Coma Berenicids
URS - Ursids
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
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