Meteor Activity Outlook for October 29-November 4, 2011

The following is a slightly edited version of Bob Lunsford’s excellent weekly summary of meteor activity. The original version can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

As seen from the northern hemisphere, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Wednesday November 2nd. At this time the moon will lie ninety degrees east of the sun and will set near midnight local daylight time (LDT). This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the early evening hours and will not interfere with meteor observing during the more active morning hours. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near four as seen from the northern hemisphere and three as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eighteen as seen from mid-northern latitudes and thirteen from mid-southern latitudes. 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 this week due to 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 October 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:

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are active from a large radiant centered at 03:12 (048) +21, which lies in eastern Aries, very close to the position of the fourth magnitude star Delta Arietis. The radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be near two per hour, no matter your location.

The center of the Southern Taurid (STA) radiant now lies 03:15 (049) +12. This position lies in southeastern Aries, eight degrees south of the fourth magnitude star Delta Arietis The radiant is best placed near the meridian at 0200 LDT, but activity may be seen all night long. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. Rates should be near two per hour no matter your location.

A new radiant has been discovered in Taurus which is active during this period. The Eta Taurids (ETT) are active from October 24 through November 3, with maximum occurring on the 24th. The radiant position currently lies at 04:04 (061) +24, which lies in western Taurus, four degrees east of the famous Pleiades star cluster. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Eta Taurids strike the atmosphere at 47km/sec., which would produce meteors of average velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, no matter your location.

The Orionids (ORI) have now passed maximum and hourly rates are now falling with each passing night. Rates are expected to be less than five per hour this week. The radiant is currently located at 06:49 (102) +16. This position lies in southern Gemini, two degrees southeast of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

Recent studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel have revealed a radiant in Canis Minor that is active this time of year. Old radiant positions placed it within the borders of Cancer. The Beta Cancrids (BCN) are active from October 25 through November 3, with maximum occurring on the 27th. The radiant position currently lies at 07:32 (113) -03, which lies in central Canis Minor, five degrees south of the brilliant zero magnitude star Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris. The radiant is best placed near 0600 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Beta Cancrids strike the atmosphere at 65km/sec., which would produce meteors of swift velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, no matter your location.

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 three per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near five 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
NTA Northern Taurids      03h 12m  +21    29     2     2
STA Southern Taurids      03h 15m  +12    27     2     2 
ETT Eta Taurids           04h 04m  +24    47    <1    <1 
ORI Orionids              06h 49m  +16    61     3     3
BCN Beta Cancrids         07h 32m  -03    65    <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

Oct 17-24 Meteors

The past week witnessed the annual peak of the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids are the result of dust created by Comet Halley over 2000-3000 years ago. Visual observers recorded peak ZHRs of only 20-25 meteors per hour. This is less than the peak from the last three years with rates of 30-50 per hour and a huge step down from 2007 when rates as high as 70 per hour were seen.

Unfortunately I missed most of the shower. For three nights was observing some of the objects that create meteor showers rather than the shower itself. The plan was to leave my meteor camera in auto mode but things didn’t work out that way. As a result my system missed three nights of the Orionid peak. I’ll have to figure out how to prevent this in the future.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI TUM EGE LMI
TUS  2011-10-24   10h 41m   66  21  2   3   38  -   2   0
TUS  2011-10-23   10h 05m   66  17  2   3   43  -   0   1
TUS  2011-10-22   10h 07m   76  18  4   3   48  -   1   2
TUS  2011-10-21   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-20   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-19   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-18   10h 07m   48  18  2   5   20  1   2   -
TUS  2011-10-17   09h 52m   29  16  3   1   7   0   2   -

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)
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids 
TUM - Tau Ursa Majorids 
EGE - Epsilon Geminids
LMI - Leo Minorids

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 12-28, 2011

Sorry, I’m a few days late posting this…

The following is a slightly edited version of Bob Lunsford’s excellent weekly summary of meteor activity. The original version can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity in general increases in October when compared to September. A major shower (the Orionids) is active most of the month along with many minor showers. Both branches of the Taurids become more active as the month progresses, providing slow, graceful meteors to the nighttime scene. The Orionids are the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd. This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Wednesday October 26th. At this time the moon will lie near the sun and will be invisible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the late morning hours and will not interfere with meteor observing. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near four as seen from the northern hemisphere and three as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near thirty three as seen from mid-northern latitudes and twenty eight from mid-southern latitudes. 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 October 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:

A new radiant has been discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel in Draco which is active during this period. The October Ursa Minorids (OUI) are active from October 16-28, with maximum occurring on the 24th. The current radiant position lies at 18:18 (275) +75. This position lies in eastern Draco two degrees north of the faint star Chi Draconis. Older radiant positions were a bit further west in Ursa Minor.  The radiant is best placed just as soon as it becomes dark, when it lies highest in a dark sky. Meteors from the October Ursa Minorids strike the atmosphere at 28km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, as seen from the northern hemisphere. Activity from this shower is not visible in the southern hemisphere due to the high northerly location of the radiant.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are now active from a large radiant centered at 02:48 (042) +20, which lies in central Aries, six degrees west of the fourth magnitude star Delta Arietis. The radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be near two per hour, no matter your location.

The center of the Southern Taurid (STA) radiant now lies 02:51 (043) +11. This position lies on the Aries/Cetus border, three degrees east of the fourth magnitude star Mu Ceti. The radiant is best placed near the meridian at 0200 LDT, but activity may be seen all night long. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. Rates should be near two per hour no matter your location.

A new radiant has been discovered in Taurus which is active during this period. The Eta Taurids (ETT) are active from October 24 through November 3, with maximum occurring on the 24th. At maximum, the  radiant position lies at 03:42 (056) +24, which lies in western Taurus in the area of sky occupied by the famous Pleiades star cluster. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Eta Taurids strike the atmosphere at 47km/sec., which would produce meteors of average velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, no matter your location.

The Orionids (ORI) reach maximum activity on morning of October 22nd. Rates are expected to peak between 10-20 shower members per hour on that morning. Moonlight from the waning crescent moon will reduce activity slightly. The radiant is currently located at 06:28 (97) +16. This position lies in western Gemini, close to the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

The Epsilon Geminids (EGE) are active from October 16th through the 27th. Maximum activity occurred on the 19th. The radiant is currently located at 07:02 (105) +27. This position lies in central Gemini, three degrees northeast of the third magnitude star Epsilon Geminorum. This position is also close to the Orionid radiant so care must taken for correct shower association, especially since they have similar velocities. The Orionids will be more numerous. Current rates are near one per hour. The radiant is best placed near 0600 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 70km/sec., the average Epsilon Geminid is swift.

Recent studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel have revealed a radiant in Canis Minor that is active this time of year. Old radiant positions placed it within the borders of Cancer. The Beta Cancrids (BCN) are active from October 25 through November 3, with maximum occurring on the 27th. The radiant position at maximum lies at 07:22 (111) -06, which lies in southwestern Canis Minor, three degrees west of the brilliant zero magnitude star Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris. The radiant is best placed near 0600 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon.Meteors from the Beta Cancrids strike the atmosphere at 65km/sec., which would produce meteors of swift velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, no matter your location.

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 16-27 with maximum activity occurring on October 23rd. ZHR’s are usually low but the radiant is far removed from the Orionids and Epsilon Geminids so that any possible shower members should be easily identified. Hourly rates should be near one this weekend. This radiant is currently located at 10:43 (161) +36, which places it in northeastern Leo Minor, two degrees east of the fourth magnitude star Beta Leonis Minoris . The radiant is best placed just before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. This shower is better situated for observers situated in the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises far higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. At 60km/sec., the average Leonis Minorid is swift.

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 three per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near five 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
OUI Oct Ursa Minorids     18h 18m  +75    28    <1    <1
NTA Northern Taurids      02h 48m  +20    29     2     2
STA Southern Taurids      02h 51m  +11    27     2     2 
ETT Eta Taurids           03h 42m  +24    47    <1    <1 
ORI Orionids              06h 28m  +16    61    15    15
EGE Epsilon Geminids      07h 02m  +27    70     1     1
BCN Beta Cancrids         07h 22m  -06    65    <1    <1
LMI Leo Minorids          10h 43m  +36    60     2     2

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

Oct 10-16 Meteors

The big story of the past week is the gradual increase in rates of the Orionids (ORI). With its peak predicted for the 21st, rates should really jump over the next night or two. Unlike most major showers which experience peak rates over the course of a night or two, the Orionids can stay near peak strength for 4-5 nights.

Below are the best video meteors of the past week.

Nice Southern Taurid (STA) shooting to the north on 2011 Oct 10 @ 10:05 UT.

Sporadic (SPO) from 2011 Oct 10 @ 10:57 UT.

Another Sporadic (SPO) from 2011 Oct 14 @ 03:41 UT.

Northern Taurid (NTA) from 2011 Oct 14 @ 05:51 UT.

Sporadic (SPO) on 2011 Oct 16 @ 07:10 UT.

Early Orionid (ORI) from 2011 Oct 16 @ 08:08 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI DAU GIA EPC TUM EGE
TUS  2011-10-16   09h 24m   41  17  1   8  10   -   -   -   3   2
TUS  2011-10-15   10h 57m   19  10  0   3   4   -   -   -   1   1
TUS  2011-10-14   10h 55m   24  16  3   1   4   -   -   -   0   0
TUS  2011-10-13   08h 13m   30  16  3   3   5   -   -   -   0   -
TUS  2011-10-12   10h 00m   34  25  1   5   3   -   -   0   0   -
TUS  2011-10-11   09h 58m   28  21  2   2   3   -   -   0   -   -
TUS  2011-10-10   10h 12m   31  21  2   4   1   3   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)
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids
DAU - Delta Aurigids 
GIA - Draconids 
EPC - October Eta Piscids 
TUM - Tau Ursa Majorids 
EGE - Epsilon Geminids

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 15-21, 2011

The following is a slightly edited version of Bob Lunsford’s excellent weekly summary of meteor activity. The original version can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity in general increases in October when compared to September. A major shower (the Orionids) is active most of the month along with many minor showers. Both branches of the Taurids become more active as the month progresses, providing slow, graceful meteors to the nighttime scene. The Orionids are the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd. This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Thursday October 20th. At this time the moon will lie ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local daylight time (LDT). This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the early evening hours and will effectively ruin the late evening and early morning hours with intense moonlight. One could watch for meteors during the early evening hours between dusk and moonrise. Unfortunately at this time of night activity will be low. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and one as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eight as seen from mid-northern latitudes and six from mid-southern latitudes. 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 during this period due to the intense 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 October 15/16. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

Detailed descriptions of each shower will continue when the moonlight situation improves.The following showers are expected to be active this week:

Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

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
STA Southern Taurids      02h 27m  +10    27     1     1 
SSA Sigma Arietids        03h 10m  +22    46    <1    <1
ZTA Zeta Taurids          05h 19m  +12    67    <1    <1
ORI Orionids              06h 06m  +16    61     2     2
OCU October Ursa Majorids 09h 42m  +63    53    <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

Oct 1 – 9 Meteors

During the night of October 8 UT the Draconids produced an outburst of activity for observers on the eastern side of the Atlantic. Based on visual reports, the IMO’s live ZHR chart showed a peak ZHR of between 300 and 400 meteor per hour. The bright Moon and preponderance of faint Draconids meant the actual observed rates were much lower.

Here in AZ the show was over by the time night fell. In fact, not a single Draconid was seen by my camera system only hours after the outburst. Except for a single meteor observed the night before the outburst, this year’s Draconids were their usual meager self for me.

With the Draconids past us, we are now looking forward to the Orionids which should peak on the 21st. Already a few Orionids have been seen each night since the 4th.

Bright (-3mag) SPO on 2011 Oct 6 @ 06:17 UT.

NTA meteor on 2011 Oct 6 @ 10:56 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI DAU OCA GIA EPC
TUS  2011-10-09   10h 46m   38  27  0   4   4   3   0   0   0
TUS  2011-10-08   09h 03m   28  18  3   5   1   0   0   1   0
TUS  2011-10-07   03h 01m   18  14  1   1   2   0   0   0   -
TUS  2011-10-06   06h 48m   20  14  2   0   2   1   1   -   -
TUS  2011-10-05   07h 10m   26  15  1   6   3   1   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-04   02h 34m   8   7   0   0   1   0   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-03   08h 18m   22  17  1   2   0   2   -   -   -

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
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids
DAU - Delta Aurigids 
OCA - October Camelopardalids 
GIA - Draconids 
EPC - October Eta Piscids

Sep 18 – 31 Meteors

It has been a long time since I posted my nightly video meteor results. Part of the problem was our annual monsoon season here in Tucson. But the main problem was a series of mechanical and software issues that I just didn’t have the time to solve until a few weeks ago.

The 2011 monsoon was very similar to last years ‘nonsoon’. Though every night saw lots of clouds and rain threatened, little rain actually fell. That wouldn’t have been too much of a problem for my video set-up except for the fact that my ‘all-weather’ camera enclosure is no longer ‘all-weather’. So I decided to leave my camera off on those nights when it looked like it might rain. Since I was going to be down for weather reasons anyway I went ahead and upgraded to the latest version of the automatic meteor detection software, MetRec. That didn’t go so well and resulted in finally upgrading from an old PIII computer to a Pentium 4 machine. Now, knock on wood, everything seems to be working.

September is a month of high meteor rates. Sporadic meteors rates are near their annual peak. Though no major showers are active, a number of minor showers are consistent contributors to the high rates. Below are a collection of some of the best meteors from the last two weeks of September.

Long-lasting (~3.5+ sec) SPO seen on 2011 Sep 18 @ 05:47 UT.

Bright (~-2 mag) SPO on 2011 Sep 22 @ 06:58 UT.

Another SPO from 2011 Sep 23 (08:17 UT).

A third SPO from 2011 Sep 23 (10:00 UT).

Almost 2 sec in duration SPO on 2011 Sep 25 @ 06:07 UT.

Nu Eridanid fireball (~-4 to -5 mag) on 2011 Sep 26 @ 08:33 UT.

SPO racing north out of Auriga on 2011 Sep 26 @ 12:07 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT NTA STA NUE SPE DAU
TUS  2011-09-31   10h 17m   37  25  -   2   7   -   -   3
TUS  2011-09-30   07h 34m   33  26  -   4   2   -   -   1
TUS  2011-09-29   09h 44m   36  29  -   2   3   -   -   2
SDG  2011-09-27   04h 21m   28  27  1   -   0   -   -   -
TUS  2011-09-25   05h 49m   25  22  1   -   -   2   -   0
TUS  2011-09-24   09h 29m   38  28  5   -   -   4   -   1
TUS  2011-09-23   09h 39m   35  32  1   -   -   1   -   1
TUS  2011-09-22   08h 25m   33  24  3   -   -   6   -   0
TUS  2011-09-21   08h 54m   30  25  0   -   -   1   -   4
TUS  2011-09-20   10h 06m   30  25  1   -   -   1   -   3
TUS  2011-09-19   09h 41m   25  20  3   -   -   1   1   -
TUS  2011-09-18   09h 38m   39  34  3   -   -   2   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
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids NUE - Nu Eridanids 
SPE - September Perseids 
DAU - Delta Aurigids
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