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 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/).

.

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

Meteor Activity Outlook for August 7-13, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity kicks into high gear in August as seen from the northern hemisphere. The main reason for this activity surge is the Perseid shower that peaks on August 13. This shower is active most of the month and remains above the level of the sporadic background for a week centered on August 13. The sporadic activity is also increasing as seen from the northern hemisphere and is now nearly double the rates from just three months ago. As seen from south of the equator, meteor rates are still decent but falling rapidly. The sporadic rates seen at the beginning of the month will be twice as high as those seen during the last days of the month. The Perseid radiant does not rise high into the sky as seen in the southern hemisphere so rates from this shower are greatly reduced when compared to the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Tuesday August 10th. At this time the moon will be located near the sun and is not visible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will not cause any trouble for morning observers. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~4 no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~24 from the northern hemisphere and ~21 as seen from the 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. During this period, moonlight reduces activity seen during the morning hours.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 7/8. 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:

August Draconids (AUG)

Activity from the August Draconids (AUD) can be first detected near August 11th from a radiant located at 18:00 (270) +61. This position lies in southern Draco, close to the second magnitude star Eltanin (Gamma Draconis). Maximum activity is not predicted until August 21st so current rates would be low, <1 per night. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to move slowly. The radiant is best placed near 2200 Local Daylight Time (10pm LDT) when it lies highest in the sky. Due to its high northern declination this shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Kappa Cygnids (KCG)

The Kappa Cygnids (KCG) are active from a wide radiant located at 18:50 (282) +47. This position is further south than previous publications. It has been updated through the use of video observations by the International Meteor Organization. The new location lies on the Lyra/Draco border, eight degrees northwest of the brilliant star Vega (Alpha Lyrae). Maximum activity is now predicted to occur on August 14th. Current rates would be 1 per hour from the northern hemisphere and <1 shower member per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to travel slower than average. The radiant is best placed near 2300 LDT (11pm LDT) when it lies nearly overhead for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its high northern declination this activity is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Alpha Capricornids (CAP)

The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) are active from a wide radiant located at 20:45 (311) -07. This position lies in western Aquarius near the faint star 3 Aquarii. The radiant is best placed near 0100 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Current rates should be ~1 per hour no matter your location. Don’t confuse these meteors with the antihelion meteors, which have a radiant just to the east. Both radiants need to be in your field of view to properly sort these meteors. With an entry velocity of 25 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be slow, a bit slower than the antihelions. This radiant is well seen except for far northern latitudes where it remains twilight all night long and the radiant does not rise as high into their sky.

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 21:52 (328) -11. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Capricornus, 4 degrees northeast of Deneb Algedi (Delta Capricornii). This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT) when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Due to the large size of this radiant, any meteor radiating from northwestern Piscis Austrinus, Microscopium, Capricornus, western Aquarius, or southeastern Aquila could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be ~2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and ~3 per hour as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Delta Aquariids (SDA)

The Delta Aquariids (SDA) reach maximum activity on Friday July 30th. The shower is still active from a radiant located at 23:12 (348) -14. This position lies in central Aquarius, 4 degrees northeast of the 3rd magnitude star Delta Aquarii. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest in the sky. The optimal latitudes for viewing this shower lie in the southern tropics where the radiant passes overhead. With an entry velocity of 42 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of average velocities. Expect rates of 1 per hour north of the equator and 2 per hour from the southern hemisphere.

August Piscids (AUP)

A new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the August Piscids (AUP). This shower is only active on eight nights from August 2-9 with maximum activity occurring on the 4th. At maximum, the radiant is located at 00:44 (011) +19. This area of the sky is located in northern Pisces, 10 degrees north of the 4th magnitude star Delta Piscium. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 66 km/sec., the average August Piscid meteor would be swift.

Perseids (PER)

The Perseids (PER) are active from a radiant located at 02:44 (041) +56. This position lies in northwestern Perseus very close to the 4th magnitude star Eta Persei. The radiant is best placed during the last hour before the start of morning twilight when it lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates would be ~5 per hour but this will swell to ~60 per hour at maximum activity on the mornings of the 12th and 13th. The latest predictions have the Earth encountering a trail of debris produced by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle in the year 441 AD. This very old trail is not expected to produce an outburst but should enhance rates by 10-15 meteors per hour near 1200 Universal Time (05:00am PDT) on the 13th. Activity from the Perseids is not visible south of 40 degrees south latitude. With an entry velocity of 61 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Eridanids (ERI)

A second new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the Eridanids (ERI). This shower is active from August 4th through the 18th with maximum activity occurring on the 9th. Hourly rates could reach near two per hour at maximum. The radiant is currently located at 02:50 (042) -11. This area of the sky is located in extreme eastern Cetus about a dozen degrees south of Phycochroma (Delta Ceti). This radiant could account for the activity many observers have reported (including myself) this time of year from this portion of the sky. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 64 km/sec., the average Eridanid meteor would be swift.

Beta Perseids (BPE)

Still another new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the Beta Perseids (BPE). This shower is active from August 4th through the 15th with maximum activity occurring on the 7th. Hourly rates are expected to remain low throughout this duration. The radiant is currently located at 03:02 (046) +40. This position lies only one degree southwest of the famous eclipsing variable star known as Algol (Beta Persei). This radiant has been suspected for many years and may have also been known as the Alpha-Beta Perseids. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average Beta Perseid meteor would be swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are slightly 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
AUG August Draconids     18h 00m  +61    23    <1    <1
KCG Kappa Cygnids        18h 50m  +47    23     1    <1
CAP Alpha Capricornids   20h 45m  -07    25     1     1
ANT Antihelions          21h 52m  -11    30     2     3
SDA Delta Aquariids      23h 12m  -14    42     1     2
AUP August Piscids       00h 44m  +19    66    <1    <1
PER Perseids             00h 44m  +51    61     3     2
ERI Eridanids            02h 50m  -11    64     2     2
BPE Beta Perseids        03h 02m  +40    67    <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

Introducing 2 New Meteor Cameras (+ August 2/3 to 4/5 Meteors)

The recent bout of cloudiness allowed me to spend some time upgrading my camera systems. With the recent bout of clear nights, I’m happy to announce 2 new cameras.

My previous systems (SALSA1 and 2) have been based on PC164C low-light cameras and Computar 4mm f/1.2 lenses. The latest addition is called SALSA3 and is a Watec 902H2 Ultimate. This type of camera and other closely related ones are the primary choice of most video meteor observers. I originally went with the PC164Cs because of their cheaper cost. That’s great and all but the Watec’s are much more sensitive resulting in greater numbers of detected meteors.

The plan was also to upgrade to a faster or just larger aperture lens by either using a Computar 6mm f/1.4 or 3.8mm f/0.8 lens. Unfortunately both lenses have been discontinued so until one pops up on eBay I’ll be using the old 4mm f/1.2. The big downside to this lens is it was made for a 1/3″ chip (like the PC164C) and not a 1/2″ chip (like the Watec) so the field is heavily vignetted at the edges (meaning the lens does not properly illuminate the entire field of the Watec).

The 2nd new camera has actually been up and running for a few months now. This near all-sky camera is part of the Sentinel system developed by Sandia Labs and New Mexico State University. The original system has been modified with a Computar 2.3mm f/1.4 lens. The larger lens means a smaller field of view (~120┬░ across) but allows fainter stars to be detected for the purpose of astrometry. Sirko Molau, the author of the MetRec suite of meteor detection software that I use, modified his astrometry calibration software to work with such a large field. As a result, I can now report accurate positions and shower affiliations for this camera. Thank you, Sirko!

Up till now, my meteor detections were flagged as TUS (for Tucson) in the table below. From here on out I will differentiate between the near all-sky camera and the narrow FOV camera (ALLS for the near all-sky and SAL3 for SALSA3). SALSA3 can detect meteors down to magnitude 2-3 while the all-sky can only see down to magnitude 0-1. Since most showers are dominated by larger meteors, a larger fraction of the all-sky camera’s detected meteors should be shower members. The last 2 nights confirm this as all but 4 of the 39 meteors detected by the all-sky camera were shower members (90% shower members). In comparison 34 of 88 SALSA3 meteors were not shower members (61% shower members).

The Perseids (PER) are already producing good numbers. Visual observations to the IMO are reporting up to 20 per hour from dark sites. The Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA) are also going strong at about half the Perseid strength. Surprisingly the minor Beta Perseid (BPE) shower also produced good numbers last night. [Editor's note: I misidentified this shower as the Beta Pegasids yesterday. It is actually the Beta Perseids.]

The weather forecast shows a return of monsoon activity starting tonight. Luckily the long-range forecast calls for another round of clearing by the middle of next week, just in time for the Perseid maximum.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT CAP PAU PER SDA AUP BPE ERI
SAL3 2010-08-05   06h47m    47  21  3   2   1   9   4   1   4   2
ALLS 2010-08-05   07h49m    21  3   0   0   1   10  5   0   2   0
SAL3 2010-08-04   08h25m    41  13  2   3   2   10  9   0   1   1
ALLS 2010-08-04   07h07m    18  1   0   0   0   11  4   0   1   1
SAL3 2010-08-03   06h35m    28  9   1   0   3   6   9   0   -   -

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime - 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 - Antihelion
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
AUP - August Piscids
BPE - Beta Perseids
ERI - Eta Eridanids
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