Dec 30/31 Meteors and 2 comets

This morning I ventured out to observe comets C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) and C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) with 10×50 binoculars. Under a magnitude 6.0-6.2 sky, Lovejoy was easy to see as usual. Highly condensed with a slightly bluish-green 6′ coma, the comet also showed a faint ~1° long tail. I estimated it at magnitude 6.1. LINEAR was harder to see at magnitude 8.5 with a 5′ coma and no detectable tail.

I also observed both comets two nights ago with the Sierra Stars 0.61-m telescope in California.

Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) on 2013 Dec 30.xx with the Sierra Stars 0.61-m. Credit: Carl Hergenrother.

Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) on 2013 Dec 30.57 with the Sierra Stars 0.61-m. Credit: Carl Hergenrother.

Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR)

Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) on 2013 Dec 30.57 with the Sierra Stars 0.61-m. Credit: Carl Hergenrother.

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The meteors were also active last night. A total of 23 were detected by the SALSA4 camera system.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV
SAL  2013-12-31   12h 20m   23  19  2   2   0   0   0 

SAL - SALSA4 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids

Dec 29/30 Meteors

Last night brought in a nice haul of 34 meteors. As usual most were of the Sporadic variety and not affiliated with any (known) meteor shower. In two nights, the Quadrantid shower will start and we will see a rapid rise in rates towards the end of the week.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV
SAL  2013-12-30   12h 11m   34  28  2   0   3   0   0 

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids

Dec 28/29 Meteors

As forecast, high clouds were a problem last night. Only 10 meteors were detected, all of which were sporadics.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV
SAL  2013-12-29   09h 00m   10  10  0   0   0   0   0 

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids

Meteor Activity Outlook for December 28, 2013-January 3, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2013 December 28 to 2014 January 3 has been posted by Bob Lunsford on the American Meteor Society website.

The Outlook has details on meteors from the Antihelion region and the following showers: Quadrantids, Alpha Hydrids, January Leonids, December Leonis Minorids, Coma Berenicids, December Sigma Virginids.

Dec 27/28 Meteors

Another crystal clear night here in southern Arizona. Our week of clear night skies will come to an end tonight as a batch of cirrus moves through the region. Tonight’s clouds will undoubtably reduce the number of meteors detected though the bright ones should still shine through.

Last night saw 21 detections which isn’t bad as no major showers are currently active.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV
SAL  2013-12-28   12h 05m   21  17  2   1   0   1   0 

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Comae Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids

Dec 26/27 Meteors

The total number of meteors detected last night was down from the previous night. Most of the difference was a decrease in the number of meteors from minor showers and the Antihelions. Meteor rates shouldn’t change too much over the next couple of nights though we should see a major bump in rates for a night or two around the peak of the Quadrantids on January 2/3/4.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV
SAL  2013-12-27   12h 12m   26  23  1   0   0   1   1 
SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Comae Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids

Dec 25/26 Meteors

Well, it has been way too long… For long time followers of the blog, I am well. My long absence from blogging was due to mostly good things (wonderful twin boys, a heavy work load at the OSIRIS-REx asteroid mission and the usual family life activities that comes with new children and a new home).

The one bad issue that kept me from blogging (at least video meteor data) was the inoperability of my cameras after moving to my new home. For some reason all 4 of my cameras ceased working properly when I tried to re-start my video network. After 2 years of buying new cameras, cables, connectors and such, I finally found the culprit. The cameras did not like the power coming out of the house and required new AC adaptors to work.

In short, my SALSA3 camera (Watec 902H2 Ultimate + 3.8mm f/0.8 lens) is back up and running after 2+ years of downtime and I hope to be posting more regularly in the future.

Last night was my first successful first night and resulted in the capture of 34 meteors. We are currently between major showers (the Geminids of mid-Dec and the Quadrantids of early January) so most of the meteors were sporadics and part of a few of the active minor showers.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM DSV URS
SAL  2013-12-26   08h 51m   34  24  3   3   0   2   2   0
SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Comae Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
DSV - December Sigma Virginids
URS - Ursids

Meteor Activity Outlook for December 29-January 4, 2013

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.

During this period the moon wanes from its current full phase to a little more than one-half illuminated on January 4, 2013.  This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the early evening hours and will effectively ruin the sky with intense moonlight the remainder of the night. As the week progresses the moon will rise a little later each evening but the more active morning hours will still be compromised by moonlight. The strong Quadrantid meteor shower will peak on Thursday morning January 3rd, with a bright gibbous moon located near the Leo-Virgo border. Activity can be still seen from the Quadrantids if your skies are clear and transparent. It would also be wise to keep the moon out of your field of view by facing the north to east quadrant of the sky. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near two for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and one for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near five from the mid-northern hemisphere and three from the mid-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. Rates are reduced during this entire period due to 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 December 29/30. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The table below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning . Details of each shower will again be provided next week when the situation with moonlight improves.

Antihelions (ANT) – 07:24 (111) +21   Velocity – 30km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Alpha Hydrids (AHY) – 08:12 (123) -07   Velocity – 45km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

January Leonids (JLE) – 09:48 (147) +25   Velocity – 45km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

December Leonis Minorids (DLM) – 11:20 (170) +26   Velocity – 64km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Coma Berenicids (COM) – 12:20 (185) +13   Velocity – 69km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Dec. Sigma Virginids (DSV) – 14:16 (214) +02    Velocity – 44km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Quadrantids (QUA) – 15:24 (231) +49   Velocity – 42km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for December 22-28, 2012

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.

No matter where you live, the first half of December provides some of the best meteor activity of the year. This activity will be tempered by a bright moon during the first week of the month. The next two weeks are moon-free and offer the meteor observer ample opportunities to view some celestial fireworks. In the northern hemisphere the sporadic rates are still strong plus you can also count on strong activity from the Geminids, which peak on December 13. There are also several minor radiants that add a few meteors each hour. All of these centers of activity are located high in the sky during the early morning hours this time of year. Much of the activity mentioned above can also be seen from the southern hemisphere. While the sporadic rates are not as strong as those seen from the north, they are stronger than the previous months and heading for a maximum in February. The warm, but short summer nights south of the equator make for some great viewing as long as the moon does not interfere.

During this period the moon reaches its full  phase on Friday December 28th. At this time the moon is located opposite the sun and will remain in the sky all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow several hours of dark sky viewing before dawn arrives. As the week progresses this window of dark skies shrinks until late in the week when the moon will remain above the horizon all night long. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and two for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near twenty four from the mid-northern hemisphere and ten from the mid-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. Rates are reduced during the evening hours during this period 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 December 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:

Now that the activity from particles produced by comet 2P/Encke has ceased encountering the Earth, the Taurid showers for 2012 are over and we resume reporting activity from the Antihelion (ANT) radiant. This is not a true radiant but rather activity caused by the Earth’s motion through space. As the Earth revolves around the sun it encounters particles orbiting in a pro-grade motion that are approaching their perihelion point. They all appear to be radiating from an area near the opposition point of the sun, hence the name Antihelion. These were once recorded as separate showers throughout the year but it is now suggested to bin them into their category separate from true showers and sporadics. This radiant is a very large oval some thirty degrees wide by fifteen degrees high. Activity from this radiant can appear from more than one constellation. The position listed here is for the center of the radiant which is currently located at 06:56 (104) +22. This position lies in central Gemini, four degrees southeast of the third magnitude star Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum). Antihelion activity may also appear from eastern Taurus, northeastern Orion, Cancer, Canis Minor, Monoceros, or southern Auriga. This radiant is best placed near midnight local standard time (LST) when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near three per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and two per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The December Leonis Minorids (DLM) are active from a radiant located at 10:52 (163) +30. This position lies in central Leo Minor, approximately four degrees southwest of the third magnitude star Alula Borealis (Nu Ursae Majoris). These meteors are best seen near 0400 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaked on December 17th so current rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one per hour as seen from south of the equator. At 64 km/sec. the December Leonis Minorids produce mostly swift meteors.

The Coma Berenicids (COM) are best seen from December 23 through January 2. Maximum activity occurs on January 1st when this shower is the fourth strongest in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 11:46 (176) +18. This position actually lies eastern Leo, four degrees northwest of the second magnitude star Denebola (Beta Leonis). Current hourly rates would most likely be less than one shower member per hour no matter your location. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 69 km/sec. The Coma Berenicids would produce mostly swift meteors.

IMO Shower #247 seems to be a northern counterpart of the Coma Berenicids. It shares the same right ascension (celestial longitude) as the Coma Berenicids but is located nearly twenty degrees further north. The activity period is shorter than the Coma Berenicids as it is best seen from December 24-27, with maximum activity occurring on the 24th. Maximum rates would be near one per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one as seen from south of the equator. At maximum activity the radiant is located at 12:00 (180) +37, which is located in a remote area of southeastern Ursa Major. The nearest bright star would be third magnitude star Alula Borealis (Nu Ursae Majoris), which is located ten degrees to the southwest. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 66 km/sec. IMO Shower #247  would produce mostly swift meteors.

Studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO discovered an active radiant in Virgo this time of year. The December Sigma Virginids (DSV) are active through most of December and the first week of January. Visual observers have their best chance at catching these meteors from December 17 through January 1st. Maximum activity occurs on December 31st. Current rates would most likely be less than one shower member no matter you location. The current radiant location is at 13:52 (208) +04 which place it in northern Virgo some four degrees northwest of the fourth magnitude star Tau Virginis. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 69 km/sec. the December Sigma Virginids would produce mostly swift meteors.

The Ursids (URS) peak on the morning of December 22 from a radiant located at 14:32 (218) +75. This position lies in eastern Ursa Minor, just northeast of the second magnitude star Kochab (Beta Ursa Minoris). These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Due to the extreme northerly location meteors from this shower are not visible from the southern hemisphere. On the morning of maximum, hourly rates of between 5-10 Ursids may be seen during the late morning hours. At 33 km/sec. the Ursids produce mostly medium-slow meteors.

The Quadrantids (QUA) begin to appear in weak numbers on the morning of December 26th. The radiant is then located near 15:04 (226) +53, which places it in northern Bootes, eight degrees southwest of the third magnitude star Edasich (Iota Draconis). Rates at this time would be less than one shower member per hour no matter your location. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 42 km/sec. the Quadrantids would produce mostly meteors of medium velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately eleven 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 be near seven per hour as seen from rural observing sites and one per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Evening rates are reduced 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.

Antihelions (ANT) – 06:56 (104) +22   Velocity – 30km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 3 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hr

December Leonis Minorids (DLM) – 10:52 (163) +30   Velocity – 64km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Coma Berenicids (COM) – 11:46 (176) +18   Velocity – 69km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

IMO #247  – 12:00 (180) +37   Velocity – 66km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Dec. Sigma Virginids (DSV) – 13:52 (208) +04  Velocity – 44km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Ursids (URS) – 13:58 (210) +76   Velocity – 33km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 7 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – 0 per hr

Quadrantids (QUA) – 15:04 (226) +53    Velocity – 42km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for December 15-21, 2012

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.

No matter where you live, the first half of December provides some of the best meteor activity of the year. This activity will be tempered by a bright moon during the first week of the month. The next two weeks are moon-free and offer the meteor observer ample opportunities to view some celestial fireworks. In the northern hemisphere the sporadic rates are still strong plus you can also count on strong activity from the Geminids, which peak on December 13. There are also several minor radiants that add a few meteors each hour. All of these centers of activity are located high in the sky during the early morning hours this time of year. Much of the activity mentioned above can also be seen from the southern hemisphere. While the sporadic rates are not as strong as those seen from the north, they are stronger than the previous months and heading for a maximum in February. The warm, but short summer nights south of the equator make for some great viewing as long as the moon does not interfere.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Wednesday December 19th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees east of the sun and will set near midnight local standard time (LST). This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the early evening hours and will not cause any problems to meteor observers. As the week progresses the moon will set later and later, but will still allow unhampered views of the more active morning sky. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near four for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and three for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near thirty from the mid-northern hemisphere and sixteen from the mid-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. Rates are slightly reduced during the evening hours during this period 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 December 15/16. 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:

Now that the activity from particles produced by comet 2P/Encke has ceased encountering the Earth, the Taurid showers for 2012 are over and we resume reporting activity from the Antihelion (ANT) radiant. This is not a true radiant but rather activity caused by the Earth’s motion through space. As the Earth revolves around the sun it encounters particles orbiting in a prograde motion that are approaching their perihelion point. They all appear to be radiating from an area near the opposition point of the sun, hence the name Antihelion. These were once recorded as separate showers throughout the year but it is now suggested to bin them into their category separate from true showers and sporadics. This radiant is a very large oval some thirty degrees wide by fifteen degrees high. Activity from this radiant can appear from more than one constellation. The position listed here is for the center of the radiant which is currently located at 06:28 (097) +23. This position lies in western Gemini near the third magnitude star Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum). Antihelion activity may also appear from eastern Taurus, northeastern Orion, or southern Auriga. This radiant is best placed near midnight LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near three per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and two per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The December Monocerotids (MON) are active from December 7th through the 18th. Peak activity occurred on December 8th so current rates should be less than one per hour no matter your location. The radiant is located at 07:00 (105) +07. This position lies in eastern Monoceros, ten degrees east of the zero magnitude star Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris).  The Monocerotids are best seen near 0100 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. At 41 km/sec. the Monocerotids produce mostly meteors of medium velocity.

The Geminids (GEM) reached maximum activity on Thursday evening/Friday morning December 13/14. This weekend will be your last good opportunity to see any Geminids in 2012 as activity ceases next week. The radiant is currently located at 07:40 (115) +32, which places it in northeastern Gemini, just east of the second magnitude star Castor (Alpha Geminorum). Rates this weekend, when the radiant lies high in the sky, would be 20-40 per hour (depending on your viewing conditions) on the night of 14/15 and 10-20 per hour on the night of 15/16. Geminid meteors strike the atmosphere at 35km/sec, which will produce meteors of medium-slow velocity.

The Sigma Hydrids (HYD) are active from November 26 through December 20. Maximum activity occurred on December 6, so current rates would be near one per hour no matter your location. The radiant is located at 08:47 (132) +01. This position lies in western Hydra, just south of the group of fourth magnitude stars that make up the “head” of the water serpent. These meteors are best seen near 0300 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. At 61 km/sec. the Sigma Hydrids produce mostly swift meteors.

The December Leonis Minorids (DLM) are active from a radiant located at 10:32 (158) +32. This position lies in central Leo Minor, approximately ten degrees northeast of the third magnitude star Zeta Leonis. These meteors are best seen near 0500 LST when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaks on December 17th so current rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one per hour as seen from south of the equator. At 64 km/sec. the December Leonis Minorids produce mostly swift meteors.

On the nights of December 19-21, weak activity from the Rho Leonids  (RLE) may be noticed. Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO have found the actual activity range is December 17-23, but away from the nights mentioned above, the display is very weak. Previous radiants for this shower were further north. Video results give a position at maximum near 10:34 (159) -05. This actually places it in central Sextans, some fifteen degrees southeast of the first magnitude star Regulus (Alpha Leonis). Rates could approach one shower member per hour during the last few hours before dawn on the nights previously mentioned. At 69 km/sec. the Rho Leonids would produce mostly swift meteors.

On the nights of December 15/16 and 16/17, weak activity from the Virgo/Corvus border may be noticed. This currently unnamed source is active from December 5-27, but incredibly weak except for the two nights mentioned above. The exact radiant position for IMO Shower #239 is 12:52 (193) -11. This places it some ten degrees west of the first magnitude star Spica (Alpha Virginis). At 70 km/sec. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. IMO Shower #239 would produce mostly swift meteors.

Another shower found by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO are the December Sigma Virginids (DSV). This radiant is active through most of December and the first week of January. Visual observers have their best chance at catching these meteors from December 17 through January 1st. Maximum activity occurs on December 31st. The current radiant location is 13:32 (203) +05, which places it in northern Virgo some five degrees north of the third magnitude star Heze (Zeta Virginis). These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 69 km/sec. the December Sigma Virginids would produce mostly swift meteors.

Activity from the Ursids (URS) should begin to appear during the mid-week period from a radiant located at 13:58 (210) +76. This position lies in eastern Ursa Minor, fifteen degrees east of the second magnitude star Kochab (Beta Ursa Minoris). It must be remembered that the length of degrees are smaller in high declinations so the radiant is actually closer to this star than these figures imply. These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. This shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere. Maximum activity is not expected until Saturday December 22th, so current hourly rates this week would probably be less than one. On the morning of maximum, hourly rates of between 5-10 Ursids may be seen. At 33 km/sec. the Ursids produce mostly medium-slow meteors.

Lastly, the December Alpha Draconids (DAD) are active from December 4-16. Maximum activity occurred on December 5. The radiant is currently located at 14:08 (212) +57. This position actually lies in northeastern Ursa Major, ten degrees northeast of the second magnitude double star Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris). These meteors are best seen during the last dark hour before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. This shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere. Expected hourly rates would be less than one no matter your location. At 44 km/sec. the Alpha Draconids produce mostly medium speed meteors.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately eleven 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 seven 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. Evening rates are slightly reduced 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.

Antihelions (ANT) – 06:28 (097) +23   Velocity – 30km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 3 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hr

Dec. Monocerotids (MON) – 07:00 (105) +07   Velocity – 41km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Geminids (GEM) -07:40 (115) +32   Velocity – 35km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 10 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 5 per hr

Sigma Hydrids (HYD) -08:47 (132) +01   Velocity – 61km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hr

December Leonis Minorids (DLM) – 10:32 (158) +32   Velocity – 64km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr.  Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Rho Leonids (RLE) – 10:34 (159) -05   Velocity – 69km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr.  Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hr

IMO #239  – 12:52  (193) -11   Velocity – 69km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Dec. Sigma Virginids (DSV) – 13:32 (203) +05   Velocity – 44km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Ursids (URS)  – 13:58 (210) +76    Velocity – 33km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

December Alpha Draconids (DAD) – 14:08 (212) +57   Velocity – 44km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

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