Meteor Activity Outlook for November 10-16, 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, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the
southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Tuesday November 13th. At this time the moon is located near the sun and cannot be seen at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the late morning hours, but it will rise so late and be so thin that it will not interfere with meteor observing. As the week progresses the moon will enter the evening sky but will set shortly after dusk, not causing any problems for watching meteor activity. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near five 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 twenty from the mid-northern hemisphere and twelve 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 November 10/11. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following radiants are expected to be active this week:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:32 (023) +31 . This position lies on the Pisces/Triangulum border, very close to the large, but faint spiral galaxy known as M33. If you are not familiar with M33, then the nearest bright star is second magnitude Mirach (Beta Andromedae), which lies five degrees to the northwest. The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 9, when this source is the 5th most active radiant in the sky. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 (10pm) local standard time (LST), when the radiant lies on the meridian and lies highest in the sky. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a v
ery slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurid (NTA) radiant is the most active source of meteor activity this week, producing 3-4 shower members per hour, depending on your location. The radiant is centered at 03:52 (058) +22. This area of the sky lies in  western Taurus just one degree south of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. You must face in the general direction of the north and south Taurid radiants in order to tell them apart.

The Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 04:00 (060) +15. This position lies in western Taurus, eight degrees southeast of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This radiant is also best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, so rates would now be near two per hour , no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The November Orionids (NOO) may be seen in small numbers beginning this week. The peak for this radiant is not until November 30th, so rates would be less than than one shower member per hour, no matter your location. The radiant is located at 05:08 (077) +16. This area of the sky is located on the Orion/Taurus border, seven degrees east of the first magnitude orange star Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri). This location is close to the Taurid complex, but far enough east to be distinguishable. The faster velocity of the November should help distinguish these meteors from the slower, but more numerous Taurids. The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0200 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon. With an entry velocity of 44 km/sec., the November Orionids would be of medium speed.

The Orionids (ORI) are still active but rates are slowing falling with each passing night. The radiant located at 07:28 (112) +16. This area of the sky is located in southern Gemini, twelve degrees east of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0400 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon. Orionid meteors are equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Studies of the IMO video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has revealed a radiant active in the constellation of Cancer this time of year. Rates are weak but detectable under moonless skies. The Zeta Cancrids (ZCN) are active throughout November but activity dates and radiant positions are poorly determined. During this period the radiant lies near 08:24 (126) +08.  This area of the sky is located in southern Cancer, one degree southeast of the third magnitude star Al Tarf (Beta Cancri). This area of the sky may be more easier found using the “head” of Hydra as a guide, as it lies only five degrees to the southeast. The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0500 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon.  With an entry velocity of 70 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. These meteors can be seen equally well from either side of the equator.

The Leonids (LEO) are now the second most active radiant in the sky, producing 1-2 shower members per hour during the last couple of hours before dawn. The radiant is currently located at 10:00 (150) +24. This position lies in northwestern Leo, within the “sickle” of Leo, three degrees west of the third magnitude star Adhafera (Zeta Leonis). The Leonid radiant is best placed during the last hour before morning twilight when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Leonids may be seen from the southern hemisphere but the viewing conditions are not quite as favorable as those north of the equator.

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 four per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near five 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.

The list below presents a summary of the expected activity this week. Rates and
positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning, but may be used all week.

Andromedids (AND) – 01:32 (023) +31    Velocity 19km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Northern Taurids (NTA) – 03:52 (058) +22    Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 4 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – 3 per hour

Southern Taurids (STA) -04:00 (060) +15    Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

November Orionids (NOO)  05:08 (077) +16   Velocity 44km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Orionids (ORI) 07:28 (112) +16    Velocity 67km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour

Zeta Cancrids (ZCN)  08:24 (126) +08    Velocity 70km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Leonids (LEO) 10:00 (150) +24    Velocity 71km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 3-9, 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, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the
southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Wednesday November 7th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees west of the sun and well rise near 2300 (11pm) local standard time (LST). This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will interfere with meteor observing the remainder of the night. As the week progresses the moon will rise later and later, becoming less of a nuisance with each passing night. 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 fourteen from the mid-northern hemisphere and eight 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 during the morning hours are reduced this week 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 November 3/4. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following radiants are expected to be active this week:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:24 (021) +23 . This position lies in eastern Pisces, ten degrees west of the second magnitude star Hamal (Alpha Arietis). The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 9, when this source is the 5th most active radiant in the sky. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 LST, when the radiant lies on the meridian and lies highest in the sky. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are now active from a large radiant centered at 03:28 (052) +21. This area of the sky lies on the Aries/Taurus border, five degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Maximum activity is not expected until November 13, so current rates would be 2-3 per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity.  You must face in the general direction of the north and south Taurid radiants in order to tell them apart.

The Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 03:36 (054) +13. This position lies in western Taurus, ten degrees south of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, so rates would now be near one per hour when the radiant lies high in the sky. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) are still the second most active shower this upcoming week producing up to two shower members per hour from a radiant located at 07:04 (106) +16. This area of the sky is located in southern Gemini, five degrees east of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0400 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon. Orionid meteors are equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

The Leonids (LEO) are actually active in small numbers during the morning hours in early November. The radiant is currently located at 09:36 (144) +28. This position lies in  northwestern Leo,  four degrees northwest of the fourth magnitude star Mu Leonis. Rates are only one per hour at best but will increase as the moon exits the morning sky. The Leonid radiant is best placed during the last hour before morning twilight when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Leonids may be seen from the southern hemisphere but the viewing conditions are not quite as favorable as those north of the equator.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately seven 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 three 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. Rates during the morning hours are reduced this week due to moonlight.

The list below presents a summary of the expected activity this week. Rates and
positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning, but may be used all week.

Andromedids (AND) – 01:24 (021) +23   Velocity 19km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Northern Taurids (NTA) – 03:28 (052) +21   Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 3 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Southern Taurids (STA) – 03:36 (054) +13   Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour

Orionids (ORI) 07:04 (106) +16   Velocity 67km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Leonids (LEO) 09:36 (144) +28   Velocity 71km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Orionids Peak This Weekend

Everyone know that the most famous comet is Comet Halley. Once every 76 years or so, Hally visits the inner Solar System. Sometimes is can be quite spectacular (such as in 1910), other times not so much (as in 1986). For those that missed Halley in ’86, it will be back again in 2061. If you don’t want to wait that long, there is a way to see pieces of Halley every year. Dust released by Halley over the past few thousand years produce meteor showers in early May (the η-Aquariids) and mid-October (the Orionids).

Computer simulations of the past movements of Halley and its dust suggest that many of this year’s Orionid meteors were released by Halley between 1265 BC and 910 BC (for some points of reference, the Trojan War took place around 1200 BC and King David ruled around 1000 BC).

This year the Orionids are forecast to peak tonight (Oct 20/21) though this shower usually produces high rates for a few days on either side of its peak time. According to the Live ZHR page on the International Meteor Organization’s page, rates last night reached a ZHR of 20-30. Tonight rates should be a little better, probably between 30-40. ZHR’s been as high as 70 per hour in the past but during the last 2 years ZHRs only reached 35-45 per hour. This year’s activity should be similar to the last few years.

The Orionids appear to come from an area in northern Orion. This area, called the radiant, rises around 10pm local time. It is best to wait till the radiant is high in the sky before looking for meteors (say 1am). The radiant is highest around 3:30am which is the best time to look. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky so you don’t have to look at the radiant. The chart below is for around 3-4am local time and shows the radiant and directions of the Orionids.

.

Hints for watching the Orionids:

  1. Orionid meteors are not visible before ~10-11 pm. Even then the radiant is too low to see many meteors. It is best to go out sometime between 2 am and the start of dawn.
  2. Even though the Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) for the Orionids may be as high as 40 per hour this year.  Most people will see fewer meteors. The ZHR is calculated for perfect conditions (radiant overhead, dark skies, and no obstructions in your view). If you observe from rural areas where the Milky Way is bright and obvious you might see 40 per hour. Suburban skies were the Milky Way is just barely visible will probably only produce 10-20 per hour. City observers will see only a few per hour.
  3. It may take some time to see some meteors. Going out for a minute or two won’t cut it. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes of more outside. Also allow your eyes some time to get adapted to the dark. It will take at least 10-20 minutes after walking out of a well-lit house to start seeing faint enough to see most Orionids.
  4. Find a spot that is safe, free of as many obstructions (trees, buildings, etc) as possible and free of annoying lights shining in your face. This is not always possible these days. You don’t need to look directly at the radiant. In fact, it is better to place the radiant just outside your field of view. As long as you do this, it won’t matter what direction you look in.
  5. Be prepared to be cold. The early October mornings can get very chilly. Dress warm and bring a blanket. Also plan to be as comfortable as possible. A nice reclining chair works great. It will keep your neck from being strained and keep you off of the cold ground.
  6. Enjoy the show! The split second meteors are tiny dust grains from Comet Halley released thousands of years ago; are hitting the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of ~40 miles per second (~66 km per second) and are burning up 60 miles (100 km) above your head.

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 20-26, 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.

Meteor activity in general increases in October when compared to September. A major shower (the Orionids) is active all month long with many minor showers. Both branches of the Taurids become more active as the month progresses, providing slow, graceful meteors to the nighttime scene. The Orionids are the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd. This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Sunday October 21st. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees east of the sun and well set near 2300 (11pm) local daylight time (LDT). As the week progresses the waxing gibbous moon will set later and later in the morning, interfering with meteor observing. 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 thirty eight from the mid-northern hemisphere and twenty seven 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 during the evening hours are reduced this week 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 October 20/21. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following radiants are expected to be active this week:

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are now active from a large radiant centered at 02:40 (040) +19, which lies in central Aries, eight degrees southeast of the second magnitude star Hamal (Alpha Arietis). The radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies highest above the horizon. Maximum activity is not expected until November 13, so current rates would be 1-2 per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity.  You must face in the general direction of the north and south Taurid radiants in order to tell them apart.

The Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 02:48 (042) +11. This position lies near on the Cetus/Aries border, very close the the fourth magnitude star Mu Ceti. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, so rates would now be near two per hour when the radiant lies high in the sky. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) reach maximum activity on mornings of October 21st and 22nd. The radiant is currently located at 06:20 (095) +16, which is in the northeastern Orion, four degrees west of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0500 when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon. At this time of night one should be able to count at least 20 shower members per hour from rural locations. Good rates can actually be seen any time during the morning hours. Orionid meteors are equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. This display does not have a sharp peak so activity seen after moon set after the 22nd should be good. Unfortunately the moon will begin to interfere late in the week.

The Epsilon Geminids (EGE) are active all month long with low hourly rates. Even at maximum activity only three shower members per hour are expected. Recent research by the IMO has indicated an earlier maximum of October 15th, rather than October 19th. The radiant position is currently located at 06:56 (104) +28. This position lies in northern Gemini, four degrees northeast of the fourth magnitude star Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum). The radiant is also best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one per hour as seen south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 70 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 16-27 with maximum activity occurring on October 23rd. This radiant is currently located at 10:36 (159) +37, which places it in northeast Leo Minor, four degrees northeast of the fourth magnitude star Beta Leonis Minoris . The radiant is best placed just before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. This shower is better situated for observers situated in the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises far higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. At 60km/sec., the average Leonis Minorid is swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately ten 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 five 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. Rates during the evening hours are reduced this week due to moonlight.

The list below presents a summary of the expected activity this week. Rates and
positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning, but may be used all week.

Northern Taurids (NTA) – 02:40 (040) +19   Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Southern Taurids (STA) -02:48 (042) +11   Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Orionids (ORI) 06:20 (095) +16   Velocity 67km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 20 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 18 per hour

Epsilon Geminids (EGE) 06:56 (104) +28   Velocity 70km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Leonis Minorids (LMI) – 10:36 (159) +37   Velocity 60km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 13-19, 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.

Meteor activity in general increases in October when compared to September. A major shower (the Orionids) is active all month long with many minor showers. Both branches of the Taurids become more active as the month progresses, providing slow, graceful meteors to the nighttime scene. The Orionids are the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd. This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Monday October 15th. At this time the moon is located near the sun and is invisible at night. As the week progresses the waxing crescent moon will enter the evening sky but will not interfere with meteor observing. 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 twenty 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.

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 October 13/14. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following radiants are expected to be active this week:

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 02:24 (036) +10. This position lies near on the Cetus/Aries border. The fourth magnitude star Xi 2 Ceti lies two degrees southeast from the center of the radiant. The radiant is so large that Southern Taurid activity may also appear from eastern Pisces, Aries, northern Cetus, northern Eridanus, and western Taurus. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, but rates remain near maximum levels of three per hour for a week after this date. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) are producing 3-5 shower members per hour during the last few hours before dawn, when the radiant lies highest in the sky. The radiant is currently located at 06:00 (090) +16, which is in the northeastern Orion, eight degrees northwest of the brilliant first magnitude orange star Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis). Orionid meteors are equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. Maximum activity is predicted to occur on the 22nd when hourly rates should be near twenty.

The Epsilon Geminids (EGE) are active all month long with low hourly rates. Even at maximum activity only three shower members per hour are expected. Recent research by the IMO has indicated an earlier maximum of October 15th, rather than October 19th. The radiant position is currently located at 06:27 (097) +29. This position actually lies within the borders of Auriga, just east of the faint star Kappa Aurigae. The radiant is also best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one per hour as seen south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 70 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Studies of the IMO’s video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has revealed a radiant active in Lynx this time of year. Earlier visual observations of this activity placed the radiant in eastern Auriga. Therefore the radiant is known as the Psi Aurigids (PSA). This radiant is active from October 8-18, with maximum activity occurring on the 12th. The radiant drift is not well established as positions jump around quite a bit during its ten day activity period. At maximum the radiant is located at 07:36 (113) +47. This position lies in a remote area of central Lynx. The nearest bright star is second magnitude Castor (Alpha Geminorum), which lies fifteen degrees to the south. This is a weak display and even at maximum activity rates would most likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter you location. With an entry velocity of 68 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Studies of the IMO’s video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has also revealed a radiant active in Ursa Major this time of year. The October Ursae Majorids (OCU). are active from October 15-20, with maximum activity occurring on the 16th. At maximum the radiant is located at 09:36 (144) +65. This position lies in western Ursa Major, near the faint star 23 Ursae Majoris. This area of the sky is best placed during the last hour before morning twilight, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At maximum activity rates would most likely be 1-2 per hour. Due to the high northern location of this radiant, these meteors are not well seen from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 54km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be medium-swift.

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 16-27 with maximum activity occurring on October 23rd. Hourly rates would be less than one this week. This radiant is currently located at 10:16 (154) +38, which places it in northern Leo Minor, two degrees northwest of the fourth magnitude star Beta Leonis Minoris . The radiant is best placed just before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. This shower is better situated for observers situated in the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises far higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. At 60km/sec., the average Leonis Minorid is swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately ten 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 five 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.

The list below presents a summary of the expected activity this week. Rates and
positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning, but may be used all week.

Southern Taurids (STA) – 02:24 (036) +10   Velocity 29km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 3 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – 3 per hour

Orionids (ORI) 06:00 (090) +16   Velocity 67km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 4 per hr    Southern Hemisphere – 4 per hour

Epsilon Geminids (EGE) 06:27 (097) +29   Velocity 70km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr   Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Psi Aurigids (PSA) 07:36 (114) +47 Velocity 68km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

October Ursae Majorids (OCU)  – 09:36 (144) +65   Velocity 54km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Leonis Minorids (LMI)  – 10:16 (154) +38   Velocity 60km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Clear Skies!
Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

 

In the Transient Sky – October 2012

October 2012 Highlights
* Orionid meteor shower peaks on the night of October 20-21
* Venus and Regulus pair up on the morning of the 3rd
* Mars and Antares pair up on the evening of the 20th

Note: If anyone has pictures or observations of these objects/events and want to share them with my readers, send them to the Transient Sky at <transientsky1@yahoo.com>.

Planets

Evening Planets

Mercury – For northern hemisphere observers, Mercury spends the month in a very poor evening apparition. The best time to try and spot Mercury will be on the 16th when a very young, day old Moon is just to the lower right of Mercury. South of the equator, the show is much better as this is one of Mercury’s best evening apparitions of the year.

Mars - Continuing its slow descent towards the Sun in the evening, Mars glows at a rather meager +1.2 magnitude. On the 20th and for a few days on either side of that date, Mars pairs up with its nemesis, Antares (in ancient Greek, ‘the anti-Mars’). Antares is just a bit brighter than Mars at magnitude +1.1 and both objects are red. You can spot the two low in the SW at the end of evening twilight. The Moon joins the show on the evenings of the 17th and 18th.

Morning Planets

Jupiter – Jupiter rises around 10-11 pm at the start of the month and around 8-9 pm at the end of the month. Still it is considered a morning object because it reaches its highest point in the sky after midnight. Shining between magnitude -2.5 to -2.7, it is the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. This month Jupiter is slowly traveling among the picturesque stars of the winter Milky Way constellation of Taurus as it heads towards opposition on December 3rd. The Moon passes nearby on the nights of Oct. 5th and 6th.

Venus – Venus rises about 3.5 hours before the Sun this month. In a telescope the planet will appear more than half-illuminated (about 70-80%). At magnitude – 4.1, Venus is by far the brightest ‘star’ in the morning sky. October sees Venus make a tight pair (0.2°) with Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, on the 3rd. The Moon also passes to the south of Venus on the morning of the 12th.

Saturn – The ringed planet is too close to the Sun to be easily seen this month.

Meteors

The year is usually split in 2 with January through June having low rates with few major showers while July through December have high rates with many major showers. Meteor activity is at an annual peak this month.

Sporadic Meteors

Sporadic meteors are not part of any known meteor shower. They represent the background flux of meteors. Except for the few days per year when a major shower is active, most meteors that are observed are Sporadics. This is especially true for meteors observed during the evening. During October mornings, 10 or so Sporadic meteors can be observed per hour from a dark moonless sky.

Major Meteor Showers

Orionids (ORI) [Max Date = Oct 21, Max ZHR = ~35-45 per hour]

The Orionids are one of the most reliable and productive showers of the year. Another point in their favor is their high level of activity over the course of ~5 nights or so. This gives ample opportunity to catch a few Orionid meteors. This year the waxing Moon will set before midnight making for nice dark skies during the prime Orionid-watching early morning hours.

The meteors that make up the Orionid shower were originally released by the one comet everyone has heard of, Comet Halley. Computer simulations of the past movements of Halley and its dust suggest that many of this year’s Orionid meteors were released by Halley between 1265 BC and 910 BC (for some points of reference, the Trojan War took place around 1200 BC and King David ruled around 1000 BC).

The Orionids are usually active from Oct 3 to Nov 11 with a broad peak between Oct 18 and 24. During their peak, rates can be as high as 20-70 meteors per hour. During the last two years ZHRs reached 35-45 meteors per hour which is nearly half the rate observed in 2007 (70 per hour). This year’s activity should be similar to the last few years.

The Orionids appear to come from an area in northern Orion. This area, called the radiant, rises around 10pm local time. It is best to wait till the radiant is high in the sky before looking for meteors (say 1am). The radiant is highest around 3:30am which is the best time to look. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky so you don’t have to look at the radiant.

Minor Meteor Showers

Minor showers produce so few meteors that they are hard to notice above the background of regular meteors. Info on many minor showers are provided on a weekly basis by Robert Lunsford’s Meteor Activity Outlook.

Additional information on these showers and other minor showers not included here can be found at the International Meteor Organization’s 2012 Meteor Shower Calendar.

Comets

Naked Eye Comets (V < 6.0)

None this month.

Binocular Comets (V = 6.0 – 8.0)

None this month

Small Telescope Comets (V = 8.0 – 10.0)

None this month

In the Transient Sky – February 2012

This feature highlights a number of meteor showers, comets and asteroids which are visible during the month of February 2012.

February 2012 Highlights
* Venus and Jupiter share the evening sky
* Mars brightens as it approaches opposition
* Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) is a nice binocular object during the morning

Note: If anyone has pictures or observations of these objects/events and want to share them with my readers, send them to the Transient Sky at <transientsky1@yahoo.com>.

Planets

Evening Planets

Mercury – Mercury makes an evening appearance during the later half of February. Find Mercury ~30° to the lower right of Venus. The Moon will be close to Mercury on the 22nd.

Venus – Venus is the brilliant beacon in the southwest after sunset. As bright as Venus is it will only get brighter and higher in the sky for the remainder of the winter and into the spring. This year’s evening apparition is as good as it gets with peak visibility in March/April. The real showstopper occurs at the end of the apparition in June when Venus will transit the disk of the Sun. This will be the last Venus transit till 2117. The Moon and Venus make a gorgeous pair on the evening of the 25th.

Jupiter -  The King of Planets shares the evening sky with Venus. It is high in the southeast sky at the end of evening twilight. Past its late October opposition occurred it will slowly fade from magnitude -2.6 to -2.3. Located in Aries, Jupiter will appear to slowly drop lower in the sky and closer to Venus as the month progresses. On Feb 1 Jupiter and Venus are separated by 40°. This distance will shrink every night and by the end of the month they will only be 12° apart. Not that you’ll need the Moon to find Jupiter but the two will make a nice pair on the nights of the 26th and 27th.

Morning Planets

Mars - With opposition in March 2012, Mars double in brightness (magnitude -0.5 to -1.2) as it begins to retrograde near the Leo-Virgo border. Mars rises around 9 pm on the 1st and 7 pm on the 29th. The Moon pairs up with Mars on the morning of the 9th and 10th.

Saturn - Saturn rises three hours after Mars. At magnitude +0.5 Saturn will be located ~7° to the lower right of the slightly fainter star Spica in Virgo (magnitude +1.0). The Moon visits on the morning of the 12th and 13th.

Meteors

Meteor activity starts off high at the beginning of the month but then drops quickly as the month prgresses. The year is usually split in 2 with January through June having low rates with few major showers while July through December have high rates with many major showers.

Sporadic Meteors

Sporadic meteors are not part of any known meteor shower. They represent the background flux of meteors. Except for the few days per year when a major shower is active, most meteors that are observed are Sporadics. This is especially true for meteors observed during the evening. During January mornings, 10 or so Sporadic meteors can be observed per hour from a dark moonless sky.

Major Meteor Showers

None this month.

Minor Meteor Showers

Minor showers produce so few meteors that they are hard to notice above the background of regular meteors. Info on many minor showers are provided on a weekly basis by Robert Lunsford’s Meteor Activity Outlook.

Additional information on these showers and other minor showers not included here can be found at the International Meteor Organization’s 2012 Meteor Shower Calendar.

Comets

Naked Eye Comets (V < 6.0)

None this month.

Binocular Comets (V = 6.0 – 8.0)

C/2009 P1 (Garradd)

First seen way back on August 13, 2009 by Gordon Garradd who was observing for the Siding Spring Survey, a NASA-funded survey observing from Australia. At the time of discovery it was located at a distance 8.7 AU from the Sun, nearly the distance of Saturn. Perihelion occured 2 days before Christmas 2011 at 1.55 AU from the Sun. Though the comet does not get very close to the Sun, it is an intrinsically bright comet and is already a borderline naked eye object for observers at very dark sites. I was able to observe the comet on the morning of January 2, 2012 with 10×50 binoculars and estimated its brightness at magnitude 6.7. The comet should only be a little brighter this month.

The comet starts the month at a distance of 1.64 AU from the Sun and 1.55 AU from Earth. At mid-month it is 1.71 AU from the Sun and 1.38 AU from Earth and by month’s end it will be 1.80 and 1.28 AU from the Sun and Earth, respectively.  Though the comet is post-perihelion and moving away from the Sun, it is also moving closer to Earth. As a result, the comet should peak in brightness this month.

Traveling north from Hercules through Draco, Comet Garradd is best in the early morning though it will be a circumpolar object by the end of the month.

Date       RA       DEC     Delta    r    Elong   Mag
Feb 1    17h 17m  +41°17'   1.548  1.642    77    6.5
Feb 15   16h 51m  +52°20'   1.377  1.714    91    6.4
Feb 29   15h 33m  +65°10'   1.275  1.802   105    6.5

Small Telescope Comets (V = 8.0 – 10.0)

None

In the Transient Sky – January 2012

This feature highlights a number of meteor showers, comets and asteroids which are visible during the month of January 2012.

January 2012 Highlights
* Venus and Jupiter share the evening sky
* Comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) remains a nice, though fading, naked eye object for southern observers
* Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) is a nice binocular object during the morning
* Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the 4th

Note: If anyone has pictures or observations of these objects/events and want to share them with my readers, send them to the Transient Sky at <transientsky1@yahoo.com>.

Planets

Evening Planets

Venus – Venus is the brilliant beacon in the southwest after sunset. As bright as Venus is it will only get brighter and higher in the sky for the remainder of the winter and into the spring. This year’s evening apparition is as good as it gets with peak visibility in March/April. The real showstopper occurs at the end of the apparition in June when Venus will transit the disk of the Sun. 2012 marks the last Venus transit till 2117. The Moon pairs up with Venus on the evenings of 25th and 26th.

Jupiter -  The King of Planets shares the evening sky with Venus. It is high in the southeast sky at the end of evening twilight. Past its late October opposition occurred it will slowly fade from magnitude -2.6 to -2.3. This month it resumes moving prograde through the constellation of Aries. Not that you’ll need the Moon to find Jupiter but the two will make a nice pair on the nights of the 1st-3rd and 29th-30th.

Morning Planets

Mars - With opposition in March 2012, Mars double in brightness (magnitude +0.2 to -0.5) as it begins to retrograde near the Leo-Virgo border. Mars rises around 11 pm on the 1st and 9 pm on the 31st. The Moon pairs up with Mars on the mornings of the 12th and 13th.

Saturn - Saturn rises 3 hours after Mars. At magnitude +0.7 Saturn will be located ~6-7° to the lower right of the slightly fainter star Spica in Virgo (magnitude +1.0). The Moon visits on the morning of the 16th.

Mercury – Mercury starts off the new year at  the tail end of a rather good morning apparition. By mid-month it has sunk back into the glow of dawn.

Meteors

Meteor activity starts off high at the beginning of the month but then drops quickly as the month prgresses. The year is usually split in 2 with January through June having low rates with few major showers while July through December have high rates with many major showers.

Sporadic Meteors

Sporadic meteors are not part of any known meteor shower. They represent the background flux of meteors. Except for the few days per year when a major shower is active, most meteors that are observed are Sporadics. This is especially true for meteors observed during the evening. During January mornings, 10 or so Sporadic meteors can be observed per hour from a dark moonless sky.

Major Meteor Showers

Quadrantids (QUA)[Max Date = Jan 4, Max ZHR = ~60-200 per hour]

The Quadrantids are the best shower that you’ve probably never heard of. It’s bad enough that this shower peaks in the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, but it is also named after a long defunct constellation. When first identified in the early 1800s, the meteors were observed to radiate from the small faint constellation of Quadrans Muralis (the Mural Quadrant). Unfortunately, the constellation didn’t make the cut when the official list of 80 constellations was set in 1930. Today, Quadrans Muralis and the radiant of the Quadrantids can be found on the northern reaches of the constellation Bootes.

Another strike against observing the Quadrantids is their short duration. Most showers, like the Perseids and Orionids, produce high rates of meteors for a few days near their maximum. The Quadrantids are only highly active for 12-24 hours. As a result, the shower can be missed if the peak does not coincide with your early morning observing.

The peak time for this shower is always uncertain on the order of half a day or so and the IMO prediction calls for a peak at 7:20 UT on Jan 4 though this time could be off be 12 hours or more. Observers in Europe and the Americas will be well placed for seeing this year’s peak. Unfortunately observers south of the Equator will not see much from the Quadrantids.

Back in 2009 this shower put on a great show with the peak well observed from the US. Peak rates that year reached a ZHR of ~150-160. But in 2008 and 2011, rates “only” reached into the 80s. The Moon will be a problem until it sets around 3 am. Then again the radiant only gets high enough for easy observing after 3 am so the Moon is not much of a problem.

Minor Meteor Showers

Minor showers produce so few meteors that they are hard to notice above the background of regular meteors. Info on many minor showers are provided on a weekly basis by Robert Lunsford’s Meteor Activity Outlook.

Additional information on these showers and other minor showers not included here can be found at the International Meteor Organization’s 2012 Meteor Shower Calendar.

Comets

Naked Eye Comets (V < 6.0)

C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy)

The Surprise Comet of 2011 proved the experts wrong and became the most spectacular comet since Comet C/2006 P1 (McNaught) in 2007. Terry Lovejoy is no stranger to new comets and C/2011 W3 marks his 3rd comet discovery. The Australian amateur used an 8″ telescope and CCD camera to first spot the comet on November 27. Though a diffuse relatively faint 11-12th magnitude object at discovery it was rapidly approaching the Sun. In fact, Comet Lovejoy is a member of the Kreutz sungrazing family of comets which can pass extremely close to the Sun. A small number of Kreutz sungrazers have been seen from the ground over the past 1000 years and a few have ranked as some of the best comets of all time (1106, 1843, 1880, 1882, 1887, 1965). The last Kreutz to be seen from the ground was Comet White-Ortiz-Bolelli in 1970. Since then over 2000 faint “pygmy” sungrazers have been observed close to the Sun by Sun-watching spacecraft.

Based on the apparent faintness of C/Lovejoy as it approached perihelion on December 16 at a distance of only 87,000 miles (140,000 km), it was not expected to survive long past perihelion. Surprisingly the comet did survive after showing some odd behavior near the Sun (comet appeared to fade at perihelion only to rebrighten hours later also it appeared to loss its tail until a new one formed). Due to the orientation of its orbit relative to Earth, the comet is currently only observable from the Southern Hemisphere. A number of southern observers were able to see the comet as a brilliant long tailed object of negative magnitude. Even now the tail is being reported between 20 and 40° in length. The head has rapidly faded suggesting the nucleus has either decreased greatly in activity or even broken up.

Racing away from the Sun the comet will travel across a large swatch of the southern sky this month. For northern observers we may have a chance to see what’s left of Lovejoy towards the end of the month as the comet moves north through the dim constellations of Pictor and Caelum.

Here’s Comet Lovejoy in all its glory as seen from the International Space Station and imaged by astronaut Dan Burbank.

Comet Lovejoy is visible near Earth's horizon in this nighttime image photographed by NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, onboard the International Space Station on Dec. 22, 2011. Credit: NASA/Dan Burbank.

Additional photos of Comet Lovejoy can be found at the sites of Seiichi Yoshida, Astronomical Society of Victoria, and Cometography (Gary Kronk).

Binocular Comets (V = 6.0 – 8.0)

C/2009 P1 (Garradd)

Until the arrival of Comet Lovejoy, Comet C/2009 P1 (Garradd) held the title of brightest comet of 2011.  First seen way back on August 13, 2009 by Gordon Garradd who was observing for the Siding Spring Survey, a NASA-funded survey observing from Australia. At the time of discovery it was located at a distance 8.7 AU from the Sun, nearly the distance of Saturn. Perihelion occured 2 days before Christmas 2011 at 1.55 AU from the Sun. Though the comet does not get very close to the Sun, it is an intrinsically bright comet and is already a borderline naked eye object for observers at very dark sites. I was able to observe the comet on the morning of January 2, 2012 with 10×50 binoculars and estimated its brightness at magnitude 6.7.

The comet starts the month at a distance of 1.56 AU from the Sun and 1.94 AU from Earth. At mid-month it is 1.58 AU from the Sun and 1.76 AU from Earth and by month’s end it will be 1.64 and 1.56 AU from the Sun and Earth, respectively.  Though the comet is post-perihelion and moving away from the Sun, it is also moving closer to Earth. As a result, the comet should brighten a little more this month.

Traveling north to the left of the ‘keyhole’ of Hercules, Comet Garradd is an early morning object this month.

Date       RA       DEC     Delta    r    Elong   Mag
Jan 1    17h 30m  +26°50'   1.936  1.555    53    6.6
Jan 16   17h 27m  +32°23'   1.762  1.584    63    6.5
Jan 30   17h 18m  +40°37'   1.561  1.638    76    6.4

Small Telescope Comets (V = 8.0 – 10.0)

None

Oct 23-30 Meteors

The last week of October witnessed a gradual decrease in meteor rates. Much of the slow-down was due to the Orionids being past their peak. Also the Taurids are past their peak as well.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI EGE LMI SSA OUI ETT BCN
TUS  2011-10-30   10h 40m   30  21  2   2   4   -   -   -   -   1   0
TUS  2011-10-29   04h 38m   25  13  0   4   8   -   -   -   -   0   0
TUS  2011-10-28   09h 30m   43  17  5   3   15  -   -   -   1   1   1
TUS  2011-10-27   09h 52m   64  23  1   5   31  2   1   -   0   2   0
TUS  2011-10-26   11h 16m   52  17  1   2   25  3   1   -   0   0   3
TUS  2011-10-25   09h 52m   54  16  1   4   28  1   2   -   0   0   2
TUS  2011-10-24   10h 41m   66  19  2   3   38  2   0   1   0   1   -
TUS  2011-10-23   10h 05m   66  18  1   3   43  0   1   0   0   -   -

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
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)
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids 
EGE - Epsilon Geminids 
LMI - Leo Minorids
SSA - Sigma Arietids
OUI - October Ursa Minorids
ETT - Eta Taurids
BCN - Beta Cancrids

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 5-11, 2011

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, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Thursday November 10th. At this time the moon will lie opposite of the sun and will be present in the sky all night long. This will be the worse time to try and view meteor activity this month as the brilliant moonlight will obscure all but the brightest meteors. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow a short glimpse of early November meteor activity under dark conditions. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three as seen from the northern hemisphere and two as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fifteen as seen from mid-northern latitudes and ten 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. Evening rates are reduc
ed this week 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 November 5/6. 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:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:26 (022) +27. This position lies in a sparse area of northeastern Pisces. The nearest bright star is third magnitude Alpha Trianguli, which lies five degrees to the northeast. The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 12. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 (10pm) LST (Local Standard Time), when the radiant lies on the meridian. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are active from a large radiant centered at 03:35 (054) +22. This position lies in western Taurus, three degrees southwest of the famous naked eye cluster known as the Pleiades (seven sisters). The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Since the radiant is large, Northern Taurid meteors may also appear to come from Aries, southern Perseus, as well as western Taurus. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be near two per hour, no matter your location.

The center of the Southern Taurid (STA) radiant now lies 03:39 (055) +14. This position also lies in western Taurus, but ten degrees south of the Pleiades.  The radiant is also best placed near the meridian at 0100 LST, but activity may be seen all night long. Since the radiant is large, Southern Taurid meteors may also appear to come from Aries as well as Taurus. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. Rates should be near one per hour no matter your location.

The Orionids (ORI) remain weakly active from a radiant located at 07:11 (108) +16. This position lies in southern Gemini, five degrees east of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed near 0400 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift with the brightest meteors producing persistent trains.

The Leonids (LEO) are just now coming to life from a radiant located at 09:48 (147) +25. This position lies in western Leo only one degree north of the third magnitude star Algenubi (Epsilon Leonis). Maximum activity is still more than a week away so current rates would most likely be less than one per hour. At 71km/sec., the average Leonid is swift with a high percentage of trains. These meteors are best seen during the last hour before the onset of morning twilight, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky.

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 five 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.

Shower Name                 RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                         km/s   NH    SH
AND Andromedids           01h 26m  +27    19    <1    <1
NTA Northern Taurids      03h 35m  +22    29     2     2
STA Southern Taurids      03h 39m  +14    29     1     1 
ORI Orionids              07h 11m  +16    61     1     1
LEO Leonids               09h 48m  +25    71    <1    <1

RA - Right Ascension
DEC - Declination
Vel - Velocity relative to Earth (in km per sec)
Rates - Rate of visible meteors per hour from a dark site
NH - Northern Hemisphere
SH - Southern Hemisphere
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