August 9-10 Meteors

The past two nights have been a mix of meteor showers and rain showers. Luckily the sky has been clear enough, long enough to still catch one or two dozen meteors per night. Even with the patchy coverage, you can see that the Perseids are the most active shower. Visual observers for the IMO are reporting ZHRs between 20-35. Rates should reach between 60-120 by the middle of the week. Over the past few years the Perseids have peaked at ZHRs of 109 (2013), 90-120 (2012), 58 (2011), 91 (2010), 140-180 (2009), 116 (2008), and 93 (2007). We’ll have to wait and watch to see what this year’s Perseids have in store though the nearly Full Moon will hamper the number of Perseids that can be seen.

The Perseids (PER) will peak on Wednesday¬†morning August 13 UT. Bob Lunsford as written an excellent guide on how to observe this year’s Perseids for the American Meteor Society here.

 

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT CAP PAU PER SDA SIA ERI ATR KCG BAR MPR
SAL 2014-08-10 04h 55m  23  7   0   2   1   9   0   -   2   1   1   0   0
SAL 2014-08-09 03h 15m  13  4   1   1   0   4   1   0   0   0   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
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
BAR - Beta Arietids
MPR - Mu Perseids

August 8 meteors

Yet another good night of meteor watching by the SALSA3 video system. Meteor totals increased by 2 to 47 over the previous night. Though the number of Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA) dropped from 7 to 2, the Perseids (PER) continue their steady climb to next week’s peak as their nightly number increased from 17 to 25.

The system also started monitoring a new meteor shower, the Mu Perseids (MPR). Though the MPR are located close to the radiant of the major PER shower (and it is possible that these are PER that were misidentified by the MetRec software), they have different orbits from the PER. The shower was only recognized in 2012 by Japanese video meteor watchers.

The best meteor of the night was this Perseid from 10:30 UT.

055119

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT CAP PAU PER SDA SIA ERI ATR KCG BAR MPR
SAL 2014-08-08 08h 54m  47  14  1   0   1   25  2   0   0   0   1   1   2

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
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
BAR - Beta Arietids
MPR - Mu Perseids

Aug 6 Meteors

That’s more like it. With the software timing issue fixed (it was shutting down my system a good 2-3 hours prior to dawn), my nightly total jumped from ~20 to 45 meteors. The higher number really highlights how the last 2-3 hours of the night is best for meteor watching.

Two showers account for 24 of the 45 meteors. The Southern Delta Aquariids peaked a week ago but are still producing a good number of meteors. The Perseids are the main shower visible right now. They are building towards a peak on the night of August 12/13. According to visual reports submitted to the International Meteor Organization (IMO), the Perseids are already producing ZHR rates of ~20 per hour. [Note, that ZHRs are idealized rates for perfect observing circumstances. Most observers will see lower rates in the 5-10 per hour range.] On the night of the peak, ZHRs may reach ~60-150 per hour though a very bright near Full Moon will greatly decrease the rates actually seen.

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT CAP PAU PER SDA SIA ERI ATR KCG BAR
SAL 2014-08-07 09h 06m  45  12  2   1   0   17  7   2   2   1   1   0
                  also no PPS or SIA were seen over the 3 nights

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
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
BAR - Beta Arietids

July 31 – Aug 5 Meteors

The monsoon wiped out the first three night of August. Happily, these clouds did bring a bit of rain.

The nights of August 4-6 UT were very disappointing for my meteor detection network. Early August is a busy time for meteor watching with the Perseids (PER) ramping up and the various Aquarius (SDA,SIA)/Capricornus (CAP) showers still producing. I fully expected to be detecting many 10s of meteors per night rather than the lowly 20-21. At that rate, I wasn’t detecting any more meteors than back in late June.

Turns out it was a bit of an upgrade issue. The night of July 31 saw me using the newest version of MetRec (the automatic meteor detection software I use). At first I thought my camera was on its last legs as these cameras are known to loss sensitivity with time. As it turns out, one of the configuration files for MetRec got confused resulting in the software shutting down 2-3 hours before dawn. Since the last hours of the night see the highest meteor rates, it really put a dent in detections. As of August 7 UT, the problem has been fixed.

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT CAP JPE PAU PER SDA ERI ATR BCA KCG BAR
SAL 2014-08-06 06h 20m  20  9   2   0   -   1   3   3   0   1   -   0   1
SAL 2014-08-05 06h 27m  20  8   2   2   0   0   1   2   0   2   1   2   -
SAL 2014-08-04 06h 06m  21  10  0   1   1   1   2   3   0   0   0   -   -
SAL 2014-08-03 00h 00m             Clouds/rain all night
SAL 2014-08-02 00h 00m             Clouds/rain all night
SAL 2014-08-01 00h 00m             Clouds/rain all night
SAL 2014-07-31 03h 35m  10  5   0   0   0   0   3   2   0   0   0   -   -
                  also no PPS or SIA were seen over the 3 nights

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
PPS - Phi Piscids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
JPE - July Pegasids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
BCA - Beta Cassiopeiids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
BAR - Beta Arietids

July 26-30 Meteors

The past 2 nights has seen quite a bit of meteor activity. Last night, in particular, was the peak of the Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA). Though its peak rates are only a fraction of what major showers like the Perseids (PER ) and Geminids (GEM) produce, the SDA still accounted for nearly a third of all meteors detected by my camera last night. Also a larger percentage of last night’s meteors were bright with a few coming close to fireball status.

This time of year a number of other showers are very active in the Aquarius/Capricornus/Pegasus area. Though not as active as the SDA, consistent low levels of activity have been seen from the Alpha Capricornids (CAP) and the July Pegasids (JPE). Even the Piscis Austrinids (PAU) got in the act last night with 2 detections. The Southern Iota Aquariids (SIA) seem to be MIA so far.

Next month’s big shower, the Perseids (PER), are ramping up. Even 2 weeks out, they are producing 1-2 meteors per night for my camera. Their activity should continue to increase as we approach their August 12/13 peak.

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT PPS CAP JPE PAU PER SDA ERI MUL GDR
SAL 2014-07-30 05h 45m  25  11  1   0   1   1   2   1   7   1   -   0
SAL 2014-07-29 07h 30m  24  10  2   1   1   1   0   2   1   1   2   3
SAL 2014-07-28 00h 00m             Clouds/rain all night
SAL 2014-07-27 00h 00m             Clouds/rain all night
SAL 2014-07-26 05h 09m   8  5   0   0   0   0   0   1   2   0   0   0
                  also no ZED, SIA, ATR or BCA were seen over the 3 nights

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
PPS - Phi Piscids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
JPE - July Pegasids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
ZED - July Zeta Draconids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
MUL - Mu Lyrids
GDR - July Gamma Draconids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
BCA - Beta Cassiopeiids

July 24-25 Meteors

The monsoon has been on hiatus here in Tucson and finally we had two relatively clear nights. There were still a few clouds and last night was very murky with lots of dust coming up from Sonora thanks to a strong Gulf of California surge. (If you’re interested, the Madweather blog is a great source for understanding the weather in southeastern Arizona.)

The Southern Delta Aquariids and Alpha Capricornids are the most active showers. A handful of meteors was also seen from the Perseids radiant though they might also be Psi Cassiopeiids as mention in the previous post.

The monsoon moisture has raced back into Tucson today so tonight will probably involve more battles with the weather.

 

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT PPS SCA CAP JPE PAU PER ZED SDA SIA ERI
SAL 2014-07-25 05h 45m  16  6   0   0   -   2   1   0   0   1   4   0   0
SAL 2014-07-24 07h 30m  19  9   0   0   2   3   0   0   3   1   0   0   1
                           also no MUL or GDR were seen over the 2 nights

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
PPS - Phi Piscids
SCA - Sigma Capricornids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
JPE - July Pegasids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
ZED - July Zeta Draconids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
MUL - Mu Lyrids
GDR - July Gamma Draconids

July 16-23 Meteors

Talk about a lot of active meteor showers. I had a hard time fitting all of the data in the table below.

Though the weather has still been poor in Tucson we did get a good clear night on July 22 (actually the night of July 21/22) with 24 meteors detected. That night also marked a change in my meteor camera system. I had to replace the outdoor housing because the old one was leaking badly. The change meant repointing the camera and reproducing an astrometric solution. I also took the opportunity to fiddle with the contrast and brightness of the video which should result in more meteors being detected.

The past week saw the start of two of the better showers of the summer, the Perseids (PER) and Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA). The Perseids should be known to most of you as one of the best annual showers. This year they peak on the night of August 12/13. Unfortunately the Moon will be very bright and will hinder any Perseid watching this year.

The other good shower are the Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA). This shower is one of the better showers for Southern Hemisphere observers but are still good for northerners too. The SDAs do not produce a lot of meteors, only ZHRs of 15-20 at their peak versus 60-120 for the Perseids. Still you may notice quite a few SDAs radiating from the area of Aquarius and Capricornus. The Alpha Capricornids (CAP), PAU (Piscis Austrinids) and SIA (Southern Iota Aquariids) are also active from the same region.

There has been some chatter on the meteorobs mailing list about a large number of Psi Cassiopeiids (PCA) detected by the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR). Surprisingly few of these meteors have been detected by visual and video observers. Over the past two nights perhaps 1 or 2 of my 34 detections have come from this shower. This suggests that these meteors are too faint for video (LM ~ +3) and visual (LM ~ +5) observers but not too faint for radar (LM ~ +8). The CMOR data also shows activity from the SDAs and CAPs.

equatorial

Plot of meteor radiants from the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR). The display is Earth-centric in RA/DEC space with opposition at 0 deg longitude and the Sun at 180 deg. Plot is from the ASGARD Web Log (http://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov/).

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Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT PPS SCA CAN CAP JPE PAU PER ODR ZED SDA SIA
SAL 2014-07-23 01h 10m  10  4   0   1   0   -   1   0   0   0   0   0   4   0
SAL 2014-07-22 08h 46m  24  16  1   1   0   -   2   0   0   1   0   1   1   1
SAL 2014-07-21 01h 17m  3   2   0   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL 2014-07-20 06h 43m  4   3   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL 2014-07-19 01h 10m  1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL 2014-07-18 05h 59m  9   5   0   0   1   0   1   0   0   2   0   -   -   -
SAL 2014-07-17 01h 12m  5   2   0   1   0   0   1   0   0   1   0   -   -   -
SAL 2014-07-16 01h 28m  10  4   1   1   1   1   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
PPS - Phi Piscids
SCA - Sigma Capricornids
CAN - c Andromedids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
JPE - July Pegasids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
ODR - Omicron Draconids
ZED - July Zeta Draconids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
SIA - Southern Iota Aquariids

July 7-15 Meteors

I wish I had more to report, meteor-wise, but it has been a rather cloudy monsoon season here in Tucson. That’s even considering it hasn’t rained much. It seems like every day is fairly clear but a nice cap of clouds form at night. As a result, many nights result in only a single meteor detection or none at all.

July is a fun month to watch meteors as many showers are active. The 6 showers listed below (in addition to the always present Sporadics and Antihelions) are just the best of a large number of showers visible this month.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT PPS SCA CAN CAP MIC JPE
SAL  2014-07-15   00h 00m        --- Clouds All Night ---
SAL  2014-07-14   00h 17m   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-13   02h 05m   3   2   0   0   1   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-12   01h 24m   7   6   0   0   0   0   0   0   1 
SAL  2014-07-11   00h 16m   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-10   00h 10m   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-09   07h 49m   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-08   02h 46m   12  6   0   3   0   1   0   1   1
SAL  2014-07-07   07m 13m   7   4   0   0   1   0   0   1   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
PPS - Phi Piscids
SSS - Southern Sigma Sagittariids
SCA - Sigma Capricornids
CAN - c Andromedids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
MIC - Microscopiids
JPE - July Pegasids

July 1-6 Meteors

The monsoon is here. For most of the year, my priority is on counting photons or meteors. But in July and August, the name of the game is counting raindrops. As you can see by the rapid drop-off in detected meteors, the moisture (and resulting clouds) came in on July 2 (or more accurately the night of July 1/2). It wasn’t till yesterday that we got a good rain here at the house when 0.85″ fell (0.80″ of which fell in about 20 minutes during a late afternoon thunderstorm).

Unfortunately, my all-weather camera housing is no longer all-weather. A bit of rain made its way into the housing. Not enough to damage the camera but since this housing was on its last legs (lifetime extended with a few manual tinkering) I’ve decided to purchase a new home for the camera system.

 

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Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT PPS SCA JBO CAN CAP MIC JPE
SAL  2014-07-06   00h 00m        --- Clouds All Night ---
SAL  2014-07-05   00h 10m   1   1   0   0   0   -   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-04   00h 59m   1   0   0   1   0   -   0   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-03   04h 28m   6   5   0   0   0   -   1   0   0   0
SAL  2014-07-02   08h 26m   5   2   1   1   0   0   0   0   1   -
SAL  2014-07-01   08h 25m   14  8   0   4   0   0   0   0   2   -

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
PPS - Phi Piscids
SSS - Southern Sigma Sagittariids
SCA - Sigma Capricornids
DPI - Delta Piscids
JBO - June Bootids
CAN - c Andromedids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
MIC - Microscopiids
JPE - July Pegasids

June 24-30 Meteors

This post brings us through the end of June. Even though meteor rates are relatively low and the nights are short, June is a good time to observe in Tucson thanks to the lack of clouds and dry air. By the first week of July (perhaps as early as today 7/2) the monsoon kicks in and clouds, t-storms and high humidity rule the nights.

We are also starting to see the start of some of the showers that make July so interesting. The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) are the first to start. This shower is produced by the weakly active comet 169P/NEAT (the image below is from the Vatican VATT 1.8-m taken earlier this year after 169P’s most recent perihelion passage). This comet has a similar orbit to two other comets, 141P/Machholz and P/2003 T12 (SOHO), suggesting that all three are pieces of a larger comet. In fact, when 141P was discovered in 1994 it was in the process of splitting. A cascading series of splitting seems to be a common process for comets and might even be an end-state for many of them.

169P_2014Mar31_CarlHergenrother

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Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT PPS SSS SCA DPI JBO CAN CAP MIC
SAL  2014-06-30   08h 11m   14  11  1   0   -   1   -   0   0   0   1
SAL  2014-06-29   08h 21m   23  15  3   2   -   1   -   0   1   1   -
SAL  2014-06-28   08h 16m   11  7   2   0   -   0   -   1   1   0   -
SAL  2014-06-27   07h 18m   15  6   1   3   -   2   -   1   0   2   -
SAL  2014-06-26   08h 24m   17  13  0   0   1   0   0   0   2   1   -
SAL  2014-06-25   08h 24m   15  10  2   0   0   1   0   0   0   2   -
SAL  2014-06-24   08h 23m   15  10  2   1   0   0   1   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
PPS - Phi Piscids
SSS - Southern Sigma Sagittariids
SCA - Sigma Capricornids
DPI - Delta Piscids
JBO - June Bootids
CAN - c Andromedids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
MIC - Microscopiids
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