March 16-31 Meteors

March continues the “doldrum” season of meteor observing. With no major showers active and sporadic activity at a minimum, this time of the year sees the lowest meteor rates. April is also a bit dull though one major shower, the Lyrids, will spice things up for a few nights.

The second half of March did minor but consistent activity from two showers, the Eta Virginids (EVI) (discussed in a previous post) and the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE). The ZSE were produced by an unknown retrograde long-period comet with a perihelion near 0.99 AU from the Sun and inclination of 150º.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT GNO EVI XHE NVI ZSE
SAL  2014-03-31   10h 22m   15  11  2   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-30   10h 00m   9   8   1   -   0   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-29   10h 11m   17  16  0   -   1   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-28   09h 51m   15  12  1   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-27   09h 28m   6   5   1   -   0   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-26   10h 31m   12  7   2   -   1   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-25   09h 19m   19  16  1   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-24   09h 51m   5   4   0   -   0   -   -   1
SAL  2014-03-23   10h 30m   21  14  4   -   1   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-22   10h 40m   12  10  0   0   0   -   1   1
SAL  2014-03-21   08h 58m   7   5   1   0   0   -   1   0
SAL  2014-03-20   10h 30m   15  10  2   0   2   -   1   0
SAL  2014-03-19   10h 46m   6   4   2   0   0   -   0   0
SAL  2014-03-18   10h 48m   8   4   3   0   1   -   0   -
SAL  2014-03-17   10h 50m   6   5   0   0   1   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-16   10h 52m   21  14  5   0   2   0   0   -

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from 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
GNO - Gamma Normids
EVI - Eta Virginids
XHE - x Herculids
NVI - Northern March Virginids
ZSE - Zeta Serpentids

March 3-15 Meteors

The start of the month saw quite a bit of clouds and some well needed rain. As a result, the first four nights of the month saw very few meteors sighted over Tucson. Since then the weather has been clearer and nightly totals have ranged between 7 and 21 meteors with 11-14 being the average for a clear night.

The period saw the end of the Northern Delta Leonids (NDL) and Delta Leonids (DLE). Neither shower produced much this year with only 5 NDL and 7 DLE meteors detected in total.

A few minor showers have started up since the start of the month. The Gamma Normids (GNO) have been known for decades and are the product of an unknown comet on a retrograde inclination orbit (~120-145°) and perihelion that is interior to Earth’s orbit. With a radiant deep in the southern sky, this shower is poorly observed from Tucson. Still 10 GNO have been seen with my set-up since late February.

The Eta Virginids (EVI) is another shower that has been known for awhile. These meteors are slow (29 km/s) and come from a very low-inclination (3°), small perihelion (0.3-0.4 AU) near-Earth asteroid or short-period comet orbit. Only 3 EVIs have been detected so far. Another meteor shower from Virgo, the Northern March Virginids (NVI) just became active on the night of the 15th. Like the EVIs, the NVIs are also from a low-inclination (3-4°), small perihelion (0.5-0.7 AU) near-Earth asteroid or short-period comet orbit.

Two additional minor showers are radiating from Hercules. Both the f Herculids (FHE) and x Herculids (XHE) were found as part of the IMO Meteor Video Network (the same network that this shower is a part of) a few years ago. Each shower produces relatively slow meteors (36-44 km/s). So far, only a single meteor from each shower has been detected.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT NDL DLE GNO EVI FHE XHE NVI
SAL  2014-03-15   10h 10m   21  19  0   -   -   1   0   -   1   0
SAL  2014-03-14   10h 08m   18  13  4   -   -   0   1   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-13   09h 11m   10  7   2   -   -   1   0   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-12   07h 47m   11  10  1   -   -   0   0   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-11   08h 56m   12  8   2   -   0   2   0   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-10   11h 04m   11  11  0   -   0   0   0   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-09   11h 05m   14  12  0   -   1   0   1   0   -   -
SAL  2014-03-08   11h 08m   11  8   1   -   0   2   0   0   -   -
SAL  2014-03-07   10h 20m   20  19  1   -   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL  2014-03-06   08h 47m   7   5   0   -   0   0   1   1   -   -
SAL  2014-03-05   11h 13m   14  12  1   -   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL  2014-03-04   08h 38m   2   2   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -
SAL  2014-03-03   05h 01m   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from 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
NDL - North Delta Leonids
DLE - Delta Leonids
GNO - Gamma Normids
EVI - Eta Virginids
FHE - f Herculids
XHE - x Herculids
NVI - Northern March Virginids

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 15-21, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 February 15-21 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: Gamma Normids (GNO) and Zeta Serpentids (ZSE).

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 8-14, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 February 15-21 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: Northern March Virginids (NVI), Gamma Normids (GNO), IMO Shower #37 and the Xi Herculids (XHE).

February 25 – March 2 Meteors

Some actual inclement weather arrived in Tucson this weekend as 0.9″ of rain fell from Winter Storm Titan. For meteor watching this resulted in two missed nights. Even the nights prior to the storm saw varying amounts of cloudiness resulting in fairly low meteor counts.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT NDL DLE GNO
SAL  2014-03-02   00h 00m    *** Clouds/Rain ***
SAL  2014-03-01   00h 00m    *** Clouds/Rain *** 
SAL  2014-02-28   11h 22m   9   8   0   0   1   0
SAL  2014-02-27   11h 08m   13  10  0   1   1   1
SAL  2014-02-26   06h 30m   12  7   1   0   1   3
SAL  2014-02-25   10h 15m   6   6   0   0   0   0

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from 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
NDL - North Delta Leonids
DLE - Delta Leonids
GNO - Gamma Normids

Meteor Activity Outlook from March 1-7, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 February 15-21 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: Gamma Normids (GNO), IMO Shower #35 and #37.

Meteor Activity Outlook for February 22-28, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 February 15-21 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: Gamma Normids (GNO).

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 9-15, 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.

As seen from the northern hemisphere, March is the slowest month for meteor activity. No major annual showers are active and only a few very weak minor showers produce activity this month. The sporadic rates are also near their annual minimum so there is not much to look forward to this month except 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. From the southern hemisphere, activity from the Centaurid complex begins to wane with only the weak activity visible from Norma and perhaps others areas nearby. At least southern sporadic rates are still strong to make the late summer viewing a bit more pleasurable.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Monday March 11th. At this time the moon is located near the sun and cannot be seen at night. Late in this period the waxing crescent moon will enter the evening sky but will not interfere with meteor observing whatsoever. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and five as seen from south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eight from the mid-northern hemisphere and eighteen 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.

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 March 9/10. 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:

On the last day of this period, members of the Northern March Virginids (NVI) should become visible as this shower peaks on the first day of its activity. The radiant is expected to be located at 11:34 (174) +09. This position is located near the Leo-Virgo border between the faint stars Iota Leonis and Nu Virginis. These meteors are best seen near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. Rates would mostly likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter your location. Since this radiant is located near the celestial equator, this activity can be seen most everywhere. At 22 km/sec. these meteors would have a slow velocity.

The large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently centered at 12:08 (182) -02. This position lies in western Virgo, two degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Zaniah (Eta Virginis). These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. 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 slow velocity.

The Gamma Normids (GNO) are active from a radiant located at 15:40 (235) -50. This position lies in western Norma, five degrees northeast of the third magnitude star Zeta Lupi. Due to the southerly declination (celestial latitude) these meteors cannot be seen north of the northern tropical regions. They are best seen from mid-southern latitudes where the radiant lies high in the sky near 0500 local summer time. This shower peaks on March 13 so current hourly rates would be near two per hour as seen from south of the equator and less than one per hour as seen from northern latitudes. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

On Monday March 11, activity from the Xi Herculids (XHE) should become detectable. The peak occurs on Wednesday March 13th when the radiant is located at 17:11 (258) +48. This position is located in northern Hercules, five degrees southwest of the third magnitude star Rastaban (Beta Draconis). These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates should be near one shower member per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere. These meteors are not well seen south of the equator as the radiant does not rise very high from points south of the equator. At 37 km/sec. these meteors would have a medium velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near one per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and four 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 .

Northern March Virginids (NVI) – 11:34 (174) +09   Velocity – 22km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Anthelions (ANT) – 12:08 (182) -02   Velocity – 30km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hr

Gamma Normids (GNO) – 15:40 (235) -50   Velocity – 56km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hr

Xi Herculids (XHE) – 15:43 (236) +42  Velocity – 37km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr.   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 2-8, 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.

As seen from the northern hemisphere, March is the slowest month for meteor activity. No major annual showers are active and only a few very weak minor showers produce activity this month. The sporadic rates are also near their annual minimum so there is not much to look forward to this month except 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. From the southern hemisphere, activity from the Centaurid complex begins to wane with only the weak activity visible from Norma and perhaps others areas nearby. At least southern sporadic rates are still strong to make the late summer viewing a bit more pleasurable.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Monday March 4th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees west of the sun and rises near midnight local standard time (LST) as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the slightly gibbous moon will be a major nuisance unless you have extremely transparent skies which will allow you to see faint meteors. As the week progresses the waning crescent moon will rise later each morning, allowing a little more viewing time under dark skies. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and four as seen from south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near six from the mid-northern hemisphere and thirteen 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. Morning rates are reduced 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 March 2/3. 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 large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently centered at 11:40 (175) +01. This position lies in western Virgo, two degrees west of the fourth magnitude star Zavijava (Beta Virginis). These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0100 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. 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 slow velocity.

The Gamma Normids (GNO) are active from a radiant located at 15:12 (228) -51. This position lies in southeastern Lupus, two degrees north of the third magnitude star Zeta Lupi.  Due to the southerly declination (celestial latitude) these meteors cannot be seen north of the northern tropical regions. They are best seen from mid-southern latitudes where the radiant lies high in the sky near 0500 local summer time. This shower peaks on March 13 so current hourly rates would less than one no matter you location. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

IMO shower #37 is active Tuesday March 5th through March 10th. Maximum activity is expected on the 5th from a radiant located at 15:43 (236) +42. This position is located in a extreme northeastern Bootes. The closest bright star is second magnitude Alphecca (Alpha Coronae Borealis), which lies fifteen degrees to the southwest. These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates would mostly likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter your location. Observers in the northern hemisphere have an advantage in that the radiant lies higher in the sky during the morning hours. At 42 km/sec. these meteors would have a medium velocity.

IMO shower #35 is active through Tuesday from a radiant located at 16:39 (250) +49. This position is located in a remote area of northwestern Hercules. The closest bright star is Eltanin (Gamma Draconis), which lies twenty degrees to the east.  Peak activity is expected on the morning of March 4th. These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates would mostly likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter your location. Observers in the northern hemisphere have an advantage in that the radiant lies higher in the sky during the morning hours. At 40 km/sec. these meteors would have a medium velocity.

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

Anthelions (ANT) – 11:40 (175) +01   Velocity – 30km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hr

Gamma Normids (GNO) – 15:12 (228) -51   Velocity – 56km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

IMO #37 – 15:43 (236) +42   Velocity – 42km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

IMO #35 – 16:39 (250) +49 Velocity – 40km/sec.
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr. Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hr

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 17-23, 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.

As seen from the northern hemisphere, 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 are also near their annual minimum so there is not much to look forward to this month except for the evening fireballs that seem to peak this time of year from the northern hemisphere. This could be due to the fact the Antiapex radiant lies highest above the horizon this time of year during the evening hours. From the southern hemisphere, activity from the Centaurid complex begins to wane with only the weak activity visible from Norma and perhaps others areas nearby. At least southern sporadic rates are still strong to make the late summer viewing a bit more pleasurable.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Thursday March 22th. At that time the moon will be located near the sun and will not be visible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will not interfere with meteor observations. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers in the northern hemisphere and four for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seven 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.

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 March 17/18. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 12:40 (190) -05. This position lies in western Virgo, only three degrees south of the famous third magnitude double star Porrima (Gamma Virginis). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Crater, Corvus, and eastern Leo as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. 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 slow velocity.

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 currently near one per hour, even with the radiant located high in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 16:56 (254) -51. This position lies in central Norma, three 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.

On Thursday morning, March 22, activity from the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) may begin to be noticed. This shower is active on only five mornings with peak activity occurring on the 24th. Rates would likely be less than one shower member per hour, even at maximum activity. The radiant is located near 17:05 (256) -04. The area of the sky is located in a blank portion of central Ophiuchus, some eight degrees northeast of third magnitude Zeta Ophiuchi. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 64km/sec. the Zeta Serpentids would produce mostly swift meteors.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five 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 ten per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three 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.

Antihelion (ANT) – 12:40 (190) -05   Velocity 30km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Gamma Normids (GNO) 16:56 (254) -51   Velocity 56km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour

Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) 17:04 (256) -04   Velocity 64km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

 

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