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

July’s Meteors (plus the 1st 2 days of August)

July is usually one of the best month for meteor observing. This is especially true of the 2nd half of the month as many showers are active including 2 major ones, the Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA) and Perseids (PER). Unfortunately for me July is also the cloudiest month of the year due to our annual monsoon. This month was frustrating for 2 reasons. 1… except for a few days around the 4th, it was mostly cloudy every night resulting in very short clear windows for meteor watching. 2… even though it was cloudy almost every night and the rain was quite close by, it just never seemed to rain at my house until the very end of the month.

With the above in mind, the actually nightly numbers below are not a good measure of the amount of activity that is currently visible. One thing that is apparent from the table is the explosion in the number of active meteor showers as the month of July progressed. Many of these showers are minor and produce only a meteor or 2 per hour. Showers such as the aforementioned SDA and PER as well as the Alpha Capricornids (CAP) and Piscis Austrinids can produce up to 5-10 meteors per hour nightly.

August 1/2 was the last bad weather night. Starting on August 2/3 the monsoon takes a break and the nights are once again clear. This break in the monsoon action will be short lived (by Friday the rain/clouds should be back). The clear weather did give me a chance to test my new camera system which should result in even larger nightly meteor catches. More on that in the next post.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT CAN JPE CAP PAU PER SDA MUL ATR GDR ZDR
TUS  2010-08-02   01h19m    7   4   0   -   -   1   0   1   1   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-08-01   00h18m    1   0   0   -   -   0   0   0   1   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-28   00h19m    2   1   1   -   -   0   0   0   0   -   0   0   0
TUS  2010-07-25   00h39m    3   1   0   -   -   0   0   0   2   -   0   0   0
TUS  2010-07-24   02h58m    7   3   0   -   -   0   0   1   0   -   0   0   -
TUS  2010-07-21   02h59m    3   3   0   -   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-18   00h30m    1   1   0   -   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-17   02h12m    4   3   0   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-13   02h29m    10  9   0   0   1   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-12   01h59m    7   7   0   0   0   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-10   00h19m    1   0   1   0   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-09   01h17m    2   2   0   0   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-08   00h16m    1   0   0   1   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-07   05h53m    14  12  1   1   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-06   07h55m    10  9   1   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-05   07h54m    17  16  1   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-04   07h53m    19  18  1   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-03   01h34m    7   7   0   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-02   05h44m    2   1   1   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2010-07-01   07h31m    7   5   2   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

TUS - Camera in Tucson operated by 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
CAN - c Andromedids
JPE - July Pegasids
CAP - Alpha Capricornids
PAU - Piscis Austrinids
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
MUL - Mu Lyrids
ATR - Alpha Triangulids
GDR - Gamma Draconids
ZDR - Zeta Draconids
AUP - August Piscids

Meteor Activity Outlook for July 31-August 6, 2010

[I have been very lax lately in my posting of Bob's weekly Meteor Activity Outlooks. I'm sorry for that. Here's this weeks installment and I'll try to keep up in future weeks.]

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.

After several months of low activity the meteor rates for both hemispheres see a marked increase in July. In the northern hemisphere the change is not noticeable until mid-month when several southern radiants, the Perseids, and sporadic rates all increase in activity. Southern rates are good all month long.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Tuesday August 3rd. At this time the moon will be located 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) for those located in the mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will be in the sky most of the night making it difficult to view any meteor activity. As the moon passes its last quarter phase the situation improves as long as one observes with the the moon far from their field of view. 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 ~17 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 July 31/August 1. 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:

Alpha Capricornids (CAP)

The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) are active from a wide radiant located at 20:30 (307) -09. This position lies in northwestern Capricornus, two degrees northeast of the third magnitude double star Alpha Capricornii. 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 ~2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and ~3 per hour from the southern. 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 21:24 (321) -13. This area of the sky lies in northern Capricornus. The nearest bright star is fourth magnitude Iota Capricornii, which lies three degrees to the southwest. 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. Unfortunately the bright moon will obscure most of the activity from this shower. The radiant is located at 22:48 (342) -16. This position lies in southwestern Aquarius, just west of the third 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.

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 00:30 (008) +18. This area of the sky is located in western Pisces, four degrees northwest of the third magnitude star Algenib (Gamma Pegasi). This position is also suspiciously close (15 degrees east) to the radiant of the 1970′s radiant known as the Upsilon Pegasids. Little has been reported of this radiant recently. 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 less than 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 02:03 (031) +55. This position lies in western Perseus, twelve degrees north of the famous second magnitude double star Almach (Gamma Andromedae). 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 2-3 per hour at best, as seen from the northern hemisphere. Activity from this source 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.

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
CAP Alpha Capricornids   20h 30m  -09    25     2     3
ANT Antihelions          21h 00m  -15    30     2     3
SDA Delta Aquariids      22h 48m  -16    42     3     5
AUP August Piscids       00h 30m  +18    66    <1    <1
PER Perseids             00h 44m  +51    61     3     2

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

2008/2009 – The Past 2 Years of Video Meteors

10,102… that’s the number of meteors detected by my 2 camera systems since the start of observations in late February 2008 till the end of 2009. It’s amazing how quickly the numbers add up.

The high number is a testament to the clear dark sky over Tucson. Over all of 2009, I was able to detect meteors on 287 nights. That number could even have been higher if not for a few weeks when the cameras were left off. Hopefully I’ll be able to break 300 nights this year, though our active El Nino winter is resulting in a slow start.

My systems (as well as Bob’s) are part of an international group of video meteor observers using Sirko Molau’s MetRec meteor detection software. Last year this group, the IMO Video Meteor Network, consisted of 24 observers from 10 countries operating 43 camera systems. Every month Sirko publishes a summary of the previous month’s observations while the December summary also presents statistics on the entire year’s data. The IMO Video Meteor Network monthly summaries can be found here. Personally, I find them a great read and can’t wait for their release. Sirko does great work and the network would never have happened without him. Thanks, Sirko!

Below is a table breaking down my results by month. Nights, hours and meteors per month are listed. Even further down is a graph of nightly detections covering an entire year from March 2008 to February 2009. During this time only a single camera was used and for the most part, very little was changed. The camera, lens, position on the sky and MetRec code parameters were constant giving an accurate measure of the variation in meteor activity throughout the year. Note the weather has not been accounted for and results in low rates for some nights such as the monsoon months of July and August. Rather than looking like 5th or 6th best shower, the Perseids (PER) should be the best shower of the year. Also notice the rather broad maximum for the Orionids (ORI) versus the very short maximum of the Quadrantids (QUA). Other showers highlighted on the plot are the Lyrids (LYR), Southern Delta Aquariids (SDA), Leonids (LEO) and Geminids (GEM).

              SALSA1               SALSA2
Month  Nights Hours Meteors Nights Hours Meteors
2008
JAN      --    ---    ----    --    ---    ----
FEB       1      3       5    --    ---    ----
MAR      25    212     232    --    ---    ----
APR      29    221     305    --    ---    ----
MAY      22    151     191    --    ---    ----
JUN      23    168     255    --    ---    ----
JUL      15     73     229    --    ---    ----
AUG      20    117     357    --    ---    ----
SEP      29    224     460    --    ---    ----
OCT      30    304    1071    --    ---    ----
NOV      28    259     596    --    ---    ----
DEC      25    174     444    --    ---    ----
Total   247   1906    4145    --    ---    ----
2009
JAN      26    198     443    --    ---    ----
FEB      24    144     207    --    ---    ----
MAR      25    152     201    --    ---    ----
APR      26    136     192    --    ---    ----
MAY      26    134     195    --    ---    ----
JUN      22     73      97    18     65      93
JUL      23     75     148    23     87     225
AUG       9     33      74     8     36      91
SEP      27    122     202    26    167     434
OCT      26    180     692    27    192     919
NOV      26    128     439    25    155     643
DEC      27    127     364    12     74     298
Total   287   1502    3254   139    776    2703

August 4/5/6/7 Meteors

After a couple nights of rain and clouds, it has cleared out again in Tucson. Last night was probably a nice night of meteors but I forgot to turn my cameras on.

Luckily Bob has better luck and a better memory in SDG. From Bob’s notes: “After a couple of partly cloudy nights, skies cleared enough to allow observations from home. Fog rolled in just before the start of twilight, ending the session 15 minutes prematurely. No Delta Aquarids were recorded tonight, which is strange as this shower continues for at least another week.”

Obs Date (UT)  TotTime TOT SPO ANT CAP SDA PER KCG
TUS 2009-08-07 00h 00m  Forgot to turn on cameras!
TUS 2009-08-06 00h 00m  Clouds all night
SDG 2009-08-06 07h 15m  30  11  2   3   2   11  1
TUS 2009-08-05 00h 00m  Clouds all night

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by 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
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
CAP – Alpha Capricornids
SDA – Southern Delta Aquariids
PER – Perseids
KCG – Kappa Cygnids


July 30/31 Meteors

Yet another great night of above average meteor totals. In Tucson the sky was better and as a result I was able to detect 61 meteors. The Southern Delta Aquariids continue to produce rates consistent with their peak. Surprisingly, the Perseids are putting on a good show even though we are 2 weeks from their max.

From Bob’s notes: “I observed another four hours this morning. The sky did not appear quite as dark as the previous night but there were no high clouds present tonight. Rates were down compared to last night, especially for the sporadic meteors.”

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT CAP SDA PAU PER
TUS  2009-07-31  06h 48m  61  24  4   4   14  1   14
SDG  2009-07-31  04h 00m 102  54  2   3   24  1   18

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by 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
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
CAP – Alpha Capricornids
SDA – Southern Delta Aquariids
PAU – Piscids Australids
PER – Perseids

July 29/30 Meteors

Rates were down last night. There are 2 possible reasons for this. One, we have passed the peak of the Southern Delta Aquariids and activity should slow for the rest of the week. Two, sky conditions in Tucson weren’t as good as the previous night as an influx of moisture made for some murky skies. It is likely that it was a combination of the 2.

Bob was able to take his meteor camera to a dark site allowing him to detect a lot more meteors than usual. From his notes: “I took the camera to dark skies and to get away from the low clouds that have been present along the coast for the past few nights. Alpine lies in the foothills of the Laguna Mountains some 25 miles east of San Diego. The low clouds acted like a blanket over the lights of San Diego and it was actually very dark. Activity was impressive both visually and through the camera. There were a few high clouds present at times, but not enough to spoil the display.”

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT CAP SDA PAU PER
TUS  2009-07-30  08h 26m  39  18  1   2   12  0   6
SDG  2009-07-30  04h 00m 130  74  5   2   30  1   18

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by 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
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
CAP – Alpha Capricornids
SDA – Southern Delta Aquariids
PAU – Piscids Australids
PER – Perseids

July 28/29 Meteors

Late July is usually a time of rain showers in southern Arizona. Instead, we have been witnessing showers of a different nature. The Southern Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capricornids are currently at their peak level of activity. These 2 showers may be producing many of the recent meteors being observed by many of you (based on your comments).

It is surprising (to me at least) how many Perseids have been detected lately. This shower is one of the best and is known to be active for many weeks before its maximum. Still with maximum 2 weeks away, the current level of activity is very encouraging. Unfortunately, the Moon will a problem during the time of the Perseid peak. Still, moon or no moon, this is always a good shower to observe.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT CAP SDA PAU PER
TUS  2009-07-29  07h 48m  57  20  4   3   18  1   11

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by 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
SPOSporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
CAP – Alpha Capricornids
SDA – Southern Delta Aquariids
PAU – Piscids Australids
PER – Perseids

July 26/27/28 Meteors – Peak of the SDA, CAP and PAU showers

The monsoon finally took a break here in southern Arizona. For the first time in over a month, the night sky has been clear of all clouds and haze. The timing couldn’t have been better since this week marks the peak activity of a number of minor showers. The Alpha Capricornids and Piscids Australids are both capable of producing 1-5 meteors per hour from a dark site. The Southern Delta Aquariids are even better at 10-20 meteors per hours from a dark site.

The best meteor of the past 2 nights was this early evening Alpha Capricornid. The video below is playing at ~1/2 speed. Still this was a rather slow meteor which is common for Alpha Caps.

CAP

The high number of detected meteors confirms that activity was up. Even with lots of active showers, about half f the activity was from Sporadic meteors that are not members of any known shower. Of the active showers, the Southern Delta Aquariids lead the pack, as expected. The Alpha Capricornids come in a close second with the Perseids (still weeks from their peak) producing a healthy number as well.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT CAP SDA PAU PER
TUS  2009-07-28  08h 23m  34  20  1   3   8   0   1
TUS  2009-07-27  08h 21m  47  22  5   5   9   1   5

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by 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 – Antihelions
CAP – Alpha Capricornids
SDA – Southern Delta Aquariids
PAU – Piscids Australids
PER – Perseids

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