Dec 15-21 Meteors

Last weekend the Geminids reached there 2014 peak. As it usual for this annual shower, they did not disappoint. Observers from around the world reported their Geminid counts to the International Meteor Organization (IMO). As of today (12/21/2014), 105 observers from 28 countries reported 10,360 Geminids to the IMO. A graph of the Geminid ZHR can be seen below.

Geminids2014_ZHR

Rather than a smooth rise, peak and fall, the 2014 Geminids produced at least 3 maxima between mid-December 13 and late December 14. The two highest datapoints correspond to ZHRs of ~160. These rates are a bit suspect since they are based on very few Geminids (hence the large error bars). A more reasonable ZHR peak for this year’s shower appears to be ~130 per hour. This fits in well with the high end of Geminid ZHR rates over the past few years (134 per hour in 2013, 109 in 2012, 198 in 2011, 127 in 2010, 120 in 2009, 139 in 2008, 122 in 2007 and 115 in 2006).

Video meteor watching here in Tucson has been hampered by bad weather over the past week. In addition to a few almost completely clouded out nights (12/17 and 12/18), many nights saw heavy dew and some ground fog form. Still the rapid decrease in the Geminids is apparent as video detected rates fell from 139 on the night of the peak (12/14) to 18 on the 15th and then only a single possible Geminid over the next 5 nights.

Sometimes refered to a major shower, the Ursids are a rather fickle shower prone to outbursts but usually very weak. This year’s Ursids were on the weak side with only ~1 per night being reported by my camera system.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT GEM HYD COM URS Others
SAL 2014-12-21  09h 29m   27  21  2   1   -   1   1    1
SAL 2014-12-20  12h 01m   29  25  1   0   -   1   1    1
SAL 2014-12-19  09h 30m   12  8   1   0   -   0   0    3
SAL 2014-12-18  01h 51m   1   1   0   0   -   0   0    0
SAL 2014-12-17  02h 26m   1   1   0   0   0   0   1    0
SAL 2014-12-16  06h 26m   8   3   0   0   2   0   1    2
SAL 2014-12-15  11h 54m   51  18  4   18  3   1   1    7

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
GEM - Geminids
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
COM - Comae Berenicids
URS - Ursids
Others - other minor showers

Dec 13/14 Geminids Recap

Last night marked the probable peak of the 2014 Geminids. Here in Tucson, we had rain during the day (0.27″) and it was looking iffy as to whether the night would remain clear of clouds and fog. I spent 1h 15m outside between 10:17 and 11:33 pm local time. Though it was very muggy and it sounded like it was still rainy as condensation dripped off the house, the night turned out to be a good one for meteor watching. I was consistently seeing 12-14 Geminids every 15 minutes so just under 1 per minute (with a limiting magnitude of ~6.1).

My camera system had an even better night as it detected 179 meteors of which 139 were Geminids over the course of the night. That is a new record for my meteor camera system having beaten the peak night of the 2010 Geminids by 20 meteors. I will try to get a video from my camera online shortly.

Geminid activity rapidly falls off after the peak. Observers may still be able to see a good number of Geminids tonight though rates will be 1/4 to 1/2 what they were last night.

The International Meteor Organization (IMO) maintains a “live” graph showing the rate of the Geminids as reported by visual observers around the world.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT GEM HYD COM Others
VIS 2014-12-14  01h 16m   71  6   -   65  -   -     -   LM=6.0-6.1
SAL 2014-12-14  12h 41m  179  21  7  139  2   2     8

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
GEM - Geminids
HYD - Sigma Hydrids
COM - Comae Berenicids
Others - other minor showers

August 11-20 Meteors

The Perseids peaked on the night of August 13 UT. Though the monsoon was still cranking and clouds were aplenty, 36 PER were detectedby the SALSA3 camera system.

Visual reports to the IMO show a peak ZHR of ~68. This is the true rate of the shower after correcting for the effects of the Moon-lit sky and the height of the radiant. Since 2007 the peak ZHR of the PERZ have ranged from 58 to as high as 180. 2014’s ZHR of 68 is the 2nd lowest of the past 8 years.

per2014overview

ZHR Live chart for the 2014 Persieds. Credit: International Meteor Organization.

Obs Date(UT)    Time   TOT SPO ANT CAP PER SDA ERI ATR KCG BAR MPR UCE
SAL 2014-08-20 07h 07m  25  17  3   -   3   1   -   1   0   -   -   0
SAL 2014-08-19 00h 36m  2   1   1   -   0   0   -   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2014-08-18 03h 23m  4   2   1   -   0   0   0   0   1   -   -   0
SAL 2014-08-17 02h 22m  7   5   1   -   1   0   0   0   0   -   0   0
SAL 2014-08-16 04h 43m  16  8   1   -   4   0   0   1   1   -   1   -
SAL 2014-08-15 01h 12m  4   1   0   -   2   0   0   0   1   -   0   -
SAL 2014-08-14 07h 27m  42  9   4   -   20  0   0   1   4   -   3   -
SAL 2014-08-13 03h 10m  40  1   0   -   36  0   2   0   0   -   1   -
SAL 2014-08-12 02h 18m  22  2   1   0   16  1   0   1   0   1   0   -
SAL 2014-08-11 02h 12m  16  3   0   1   8   0   0   1   1   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
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
BAR - Beta Arietids
MPR - Mu Perseids
UCE - Upsilon Cetids

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
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers