Meteor Activity Outlook for January 4-10, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 January 4-10 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, and December Leonis Minorids.

Jan 5/6 Meteors

Now that’s more like it. After two straight nights with cirrus, a clear night once again produced a larger number of detections. (And yes I know I shouldn’t complain about a few nights of cirrus when much of the US and Canada is undergoing a deep freeze).

The short window to see Quadrantids has already closed and this shower is done for the year. Still the other minor showers and Sporadics produced 30 detections.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM JLE
SAL  2014-01-06   12h 38m   30  26  1   2   1   1   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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
JLE - January Leonids
QUA - Quadrantids

Jan 3/4/5 Meteors

The last two nights have been hampered by high cirrus in southern Arizona. As a result, meteor rates were suppressed. It also doesn’t help that last week’s major shower, the Quadrantids, has come and gone and none of the established meteor showers are showing much activity. Hopefully more will be picked up tonight since there are no clouds in the forecast.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM JLE QUA
SAL  2014-01-04   12h 38m   11  8   1   0   1   0   0   1
SAL  2014-01-05   12h 33m   16  13  2   0   0   0   0   1

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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
JLE - January Leonids
QUA - Quadrantids

Jan 2/3 Meteors and the Quadrantids

The Quadrantid meteor shower was most definitely active this morning over southern Arizona. Though the actual peak of Quadrantid activity likely occurred some hours later, both the SALSA3 video system and my own visual observations detected many Quads.

Over the course of 1 hour of observation under a limiting magnitude of 6.0 sky, I detected 29 meteors of which 22 were Quadrantids. Unlike the Geminids of last month, the Quads were relatively faint with no negative magnitude meteors. The video camera doesn’t see as faint as the human eye but makes up for lack in sensitivity by running tirelessly all night long. As a result the camera picked up even more meteors (64 in total with 42 being Quadrantids). If the peak really occurred over Asia as predicted then Quad activity should be good but rapidly falling over Europe and more or less over for the wester hemisphere tonight.

Backward trace plot of meteors detected by the SALSA3 video system from Tucson/Tanque Verde, Arizona on the night of 2014 Jan 3 UT. The Quadrantid radiant is very apparent. Plot created with the MetRec meteor detection software. Credit: Carl Hergenrother.
Backward trace plot of meteors detected by the SALSA3 video system from Tucson/Tanque Verde, Arizona on the night of 2014 Jan 3 UT. The Quadrantid radiant is very apparent. Plot created with the MetRec meteor detection software. Credit: Carl Hergenrother.

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Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DLM JLE QUA
SAL  2014-01-03   12h 39m   64  18  2   0   0   1   1   42
VIS  2014-01-03   01h 00m   29   7                      22 (LM=~6.0)

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
AHY - Alpha Hydrids
COM - Coma Berenicids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
JLE - January Leonids
QUA - Quadrantids

Jan 1/2 Meteors and Tonight’s Quadrantids

Tonight brings the peak of the best meteor shower you have probably never seen. The best showers of the year are almost always August’s Perseids and December’s Geminids. Number 3 and 4 are usually October’s Orionids or tonight’s shower, the Quadrantids.

The reason I say the Quads are probably the best shower you’ve never seen is two-fold. First as a northern shower, they take place in the dead of winter and only a few days after New Year’s. If the exhaustion from the Holiday’s season doesn’t keep most people inside then the cold definitely will. Also unlike most showers which have broad peaks which last a few days, the peak of the Quads is very narrow. Even if you are observing on the peak night, you can miss much of the show if you are off the peak by only 12 hours.

The International Meteor Organization predicts this year’s Quads peak to take place at ~19:30 UT on the 3rd which suggests the best viewing will be in Asia. But… predicting the peak time for this shower is always difficult so pretty much anywhere on Earth may see the best. The only way to know is to get out and look.

Bob Lunsford has posted an excellent guide to observing the Quads at the American Meteor Society (AMS) website. Please check it and the AMS (of which I am their Secretary) out.

For many years, astronomers were uncertain as to which comet caused the Quadrantids. No known comets was visible on a similar orbit even though the narrowness and strength of the meteor stream suggested it was created recently. We now know that the asteroid (196256) 2003 EH1 is the likely parent body of the Quads. Even though today it appears as nothing more than an asteroid it was a comet in the past and a rather bright one when seen in 1490. Earlier this year I observed 2003 EH1 with the Vatican Obs/Univ. of Arizona VATT 1.8-m as seen in the image below.

[I forgot to add that yesterday’s Earth impacting asteroid, 2014 AA, is not related to the Quadrantid meteor shower. The asteroid and the meteors have very different orbits and the fact that they both intersected the Earth on the same day (or two) is not only a coincidence but shows just how crowded space is with debris.]

Co-added R-band image of the Quadrantids parent body (xxx) 2003 EH1 taken on 2013 Sep. xx.xx UT with the Vatican VATT 1.8-m. Credit: Carl Hergenrother/Vatican Obs./University of Arizona.

Co-added R-band image of the Quadrantids parent body (196256) 2003 EH1 taken on 2013 Sep. 14.25 UT with the Vatican VATT 1.8-m. At the time the object showed no cometary activity. Credit: Carl Hergenrother/Vatican Obs./University of Arizona.

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Last night was another clear night in Tucson. Though 28 meteors were detected, only 2 were possible Quads. Tonight should see a huge increase in Quadrantid meteors.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DAD DLM JLE QUA
SAL  2014-01-02   12h 33m   28  23  1   0   0   0   2   0   2

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
DAD - December Alpha Draconids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
JLE - January Leonids
QUA - Quadrantids

Happy New Year’s Meteors

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2014!

The new year also sees us welcoming a few more active meteor showers. The most important is the Quadrantids. Last night only a single possible QUA was seen but that should rapidly change starting tonight.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT AHY COM DAD DLM JLE QUA
SAL  2014-01-01   12h 41m   35  26  0   2   2   3   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 - Coma Berenicids
DAD - December Alpha Draconids
DLM - December Leonis Minorids
JLE - January Leonids
QUA - Quadrantids

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.

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