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

Oct 17-24 Meteors

The past week witnessed the annual peak of the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids are the result of dust created by Comet Halley over 2000-3000 years ago. Visual observers recorded peak ZHRs of only 20-25 meteors per hour. This is less than the peak from the last three years with rates of 30-50 per hour and a huge step down from 2007 when rates as high as 70 per hour were seen.

Unfortunately I missed most of the shower. For three nights was observing some of the objects that create meteor showers rather than the shower itself. The plan was to leave my meteor camera in auto mode but things didn’t work out that way. As a result my system missed three nights of the Orionid peak. I’ll have to figure out how to prevent this in the future.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI TUM EGE LMI
TUS  2011-10-24   10h 41m   66  21  2   3   38  -   2   0
TUS  2011-10-23   10h 05m   66  17  2   3   43  -   0   1
TUS  2011-10-22   10h 07m   76  18  4   3   48  -   1   2
TUS  2011-10-21   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-20   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-19   00h 00m   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-18   10h 07m   48  18  2   5   20  1   2   -
TUS  2011-10-17   09h 52m   29  16  3   1   7   0   2   -

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 
TUM - Tau Ursa Majorids 
EGE - Epsilon Geminids
LMI - Leo Minorids

Oct 10-16 Meteors

The big story of the past week is the gradual increase in rates of the Orionids (ORI). With its peak predicted for the 21st, rates should really jump over the next night or two. Unlike most major showers which experience peak rates over the course of a night or two, the Orionids can stay near peak strength for 4-5 nights.

Below are the best video meteors of the past week.

Nice Southern Taurid (STA) shooting to the north on 2011 Oct 10 @ 10:05 UT.

Sporadic (SPO) from 2011 Oct 10 @ 10:57 UT.

Another Sporadic (SPO) from 2011 Oct 14 @ 03:41 UT.

Northern Taurid (NTA) from 2011 Oct 14 @ 05:51 UT.

Sporadic (SPO) on 2011 Oct 16 @ 07:10 UT.

Early Orionid (ORI) from 2011 Oct 16 @ 08:08 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI DAU GIA EPC TUM EGE
TUS  2011-10-16   09h 24m   41  17  1   8  10   -   -   -   3   2
TUS  2011-10-15   10h 57m   19  10  0   3   4   -   -   -   1   1
TUS  2011-10-14   10h 55m   24  16  3   1   4   -   -   -   0   0
TUS  2011-10-13   08h 13m   30  16  3   3   5   -   -   -   0   -
TUS  2011-10-12   10h 00m   34  25  1   5   3   -   -   0   0   -
TUS  2011-10-11   09h 58m   28  21  2   2   3   -   -   0   -   -
TUS  2011-10-10   10h 12m   31  21  2   4   1   3   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
DAU - Delta Aurigids 
GIA - Draconids 
EPC - October Eta Piscids 
TUM - Tau Ursa Majorids 
EGE - Epsilon Geminids

Oct 1 – 9 Meteors

During the night of October 8 UT the Draconids produced an outburst of activity for observers on the eastern side of the Atlantic. Based on visual reports, the IMO’s live ZHR chart showed a peak ZHR of between 300 and 400 meteor per hour. The bright Moon and preponderance of faint Draconids meant the actual observed rates were much lower.

Here in AZ the show was over by the time night fell. In fact, not a single Draconid was seen by my camera system only hours after the outburst. Except for a single meteor observed the night before the outburst, this year’s Draconids were their usual meager self for me.

With the Draconids past us, we are now looking forward to the Orionids which should peak on the 21st. Already a few Orionids have been seen each night since the 4th.

Bright (-3mag) SPO on 2011 Oct 6 @ 06:17 UT.

NTA meteor on 2011 Oct 6 @ 10:56 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI DAU OCA GIA EPC
TUS  2011-10-09   10h 46m   38  27  0   4   4   3   0   0   0
TUS  2011-10-08   09h 03m   28  18  3   5   1   0   0   1   0
TUS  2011-10-07   03h 01m   18  14  1   1   2   0   0   0   -
TUS  2011-10-06   06h 48m   20  14  2   0   2   1   1   -   -
TUS  2011-10-05   07h 10m   26  15  1   6   3   1   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-04   02h 34m   8   7   0   0   1   0   -   -   -
TUS  2011-10-03   08h 18m   22  17  1   2   0   2   -   -   -

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)
ANT - Antihelions
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids
DAU - Delta Aurigids 
OCA - October Camelopardalids 
GIA - Draconids 
EPC - October Eta Piscids

Sep 18 – 31 Meteors

It has been a long time since I posted my nightly video meteor results. Part of the problem was our annual monsoon season here in Tucson. But the main problem was a series of mechanical and software issues that I just didn’t have the time to solve until a few weeks ago.

The 2011 monsoon was very similar to last years ‘nonsoon’. Though every night saw lots of clouds and rain threatened, little rain actually fell. That wouldn’t have been too much of a problem for my video set-up except for the fact that my ‘all-weather’ camera enclosure is no longer ‘all-weather’. So I decided to leave my camera off on those nights when it looked like it might rain. Since I was going to be down for weather reasons anyway I went ahead and upgraded to the latest version of the automatic meteor detection software, MetRec. That didn’t go so well and resulted in finally upgrading from an old PIII computer to a Pentium 4 machine. Now, knock on wood, everything seems to be working.

September is a month of high meteor rates. Sporadic meteors rates are near their annual peak. Though no major showers are active, a number of minor showers are consistent contributors to the high rates. Below are a collection of some of the best meteors from the last two weeks of September.

Long-lasting (~3.5+ sec) SPO seen on 2011 Sep 18 @ 05:47 UT.

Bright (~-2 mag) SPO on 2011 Sep 22 @ 06:58 UT.

Another SPO from 2011 Sep 23 (08:17 UT).

A third SPO from 2011 Sep 23 (10:00 UT).

Almost 2 sec in duration SPO on 2011 Sep 25 @ 06:07 UT.

Nu Eridanid fireball (~-4 to -5 mag) on 2011 Sep 26 @ 08:33 UT.

SPO racing north out of Auriga on 2011 Sep 26 @ 12:07 UT.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT NTA STA NUE SPE DAU
TUS  2011-09-31   10h 17m   37  25  -   2   7   -   -   3
TUS  2011-09-30   07h 34m   33  26  -   4   2   -   -   1
TUS  2011-09-29   09h 44m   36  29  -   2   3   -   -   2
SDG  2011-09-27   04h 21m   28  27  1   -   0   -   -   -
TUS  2011-09-25   05h 49m   25  22  1   -   -   2   -   0
TUS  2011-09-24   09h 29m   38  28  5   -   -   4   -   1
TUS  2011-09-23   09h 39m   35  32  1   -   -   1   -   1
TUS  2011-09-22   08h 25m   33  24  3   -   -   6   -   0
TUS  2011-09-21   08h 54m   30  25  0   -   -   1   -   4
TUS  2011-09-20   10h 06m   30  25  1   -   -   1   -   3
TUS  2011-09-19   09h 41m   25  20  3   -   -   1   1   -
TUS  2011-09-18   09h 38m   39  34  3   -   -   2   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)
ANT - Antihelions
NTA - Northern Taurids 
STA - Southern Taurids NUE - Nu Eridanids 
SPE - September Perseids 
DAU - Delta Aurigids

Nov 6/7 to 10/11 Meteors

We are currently in a time of overlap with a slowly declining Orionid shower and a slowly rising Leonid shower. The relative contributions to the nightly meteor totals between the 2 showers is still about equal. But since the Orionid radiant is up for a much longer period of time, the actual rates are very different with the Leonids outproducing the Orionids on a per hour basis.

The Taurids are near their annual maximum and are producing a steady shower of meteors. As for the remaining active shower, the Andromedids haven’t produced anything picked up by my cameras.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI LEO AND
SAL3 2010-11-11   11h 41m   37  21  3   3   4   6   0
ALLS 2010-11-11   11h 53m   18  11  0   0   5   2   0
SAL3 2010-11-10   11h 40m   18  12  3   2   1   0   0
ALLS 2010-11-10   12h 09m   11  9   1   1   0   0   0
SAL3 2010-11-09   02h 26m   7   3   3   1   0   0   0
ALLS 2010-11-09   01h 11m   6   4   1   0   1   0   0
SAL3 2010-11-08   11h 31m   34  22  5   3   2   2   0
ALLS 2010-11-08   11h 45m   14  9   0   0   2   3   0
SAL3 2010-11-07   07h 44m   31  19  3   4   3   2   0
ALLS 2010-11-07   12h 02m   14  10  1   0   0   3   0

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
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)
ANT - Antihelions  
NTA - Northern Taurids
STA - Southern Taurids 
ORI - Orionids
LEO - Leonids
AND - Andromedids

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 6-12, 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.

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 Saturday November 6th. At this time the moon lies near the sun and cannot be seen at night. This will be the best time to view meteor activity this month. The Taurids will be producing many slow meteors all night long while the sporadic rates will also remain high. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near six from the northern hemisphere and four for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near twenty four from the northern hemisphere and fourteen 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.

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 6/7. 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:

Andromedids (AND)

Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel’s studies of video radiants has revealed that activity from the famous Andromedid shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current
position of the large radiant is 01:27 (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. 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. Sirko mentions that these meteors are “conspicuously slow and of almost constant activity” during this period.

Northern Taurids (NTA)

The center of the large Northern Taurid (NTA) radiant lies at 03:38 (055) +22. This area of the sky is located in western Taurus, two degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades. These meteors are best seen near 0100 LST, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaks on November 13, so rates are slowly increasing. Current rates would be near three per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in November.

Southern Taurids (STA)

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant lies at 03:42 (056) +14. This area of the sky is located in western Taurus, ten degrees south of the Pleiades. The radiant is also best placed near the meridian near 0100 LDT. We are now well past the October 10 maximum for this shower but rates will still remain near two per hour, no matter your location. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in October.

Orionids (ORI)

The Orionids (ORI) reached maximum activity on October 22nd. Some activity may still be seen during the morning hours from a radiant located at 07:14 (109) +16. This position lies in southern Gemini, close to the faint magnitude star Lambda Geminorum. The radiant is best placed on the meridian near 0400 LDT. Current rates should be near two per hour no matter your location. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

Leonids (LEO)

The Leonids (LEO) are just now coming to life from a radiant located at 09:50 (148) +25. This position lies in western Leo only one degree north of the third magnitude star 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.

Shower Name                 RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                         km/s   NH    SH
AND Andromedids           01h 27m  +27    19    <1    <1
NTA Northern Taurids      03h 38m  +22    29     3     3
STA Southern Taurids      03h 42m  +14    29     2     2
ORI Orionids              07h 14m  +16    67     2     2
LEO Leonids               09h 50m  +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

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 30-November 5, 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.

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 wanes from its last quarter phase to nearly new at the end of the period. This weekend the half illuminated last quarter moon will rise near 0100 LDT (Local Daylight Time) and will remain in the sky the remainder of the night. While the moon at this phase is still bright, it is nowhere as bright as the full moon encountered the previous week. Successful meteor observations can be undertaken by simply keeping the moon far from your field of view. The observing situation improves further as the week progresses as the moon wanes and rises later and later during the morning hours. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near six from the northern hemisphere and three for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near twenty from the northern hemisphere and twelve 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. Morning rates are reduced this week due to lunar interference.

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 30/31. 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:

Northern Taurids (NTA)

The center of the large Northern Taurid (NTA) radiant lies at 03:12 (048) +21. This area of the sky is located in eastern Aries, ten degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades. The radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaks on November 13, so rates are slowly increasing. Current rates would be near two per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in November.

Southern Taurids (STA)

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant lies at 03:16 (049) +12. This area of the sky is located in eastern Aries, fifteen degrees southwest of the Pleiades. The radiant is also best placed near the meridian near 0200 LDT. We are now well past the October 10 maximum for this shower but rates will still remain near two per hour, no matter your location. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in October.

Eta Taurids (ETT)

Studies of the IMO video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has revealed a radiant located in Taurus this time of year. The Eta Taurids (ETT) are active from October 25 through November 3, with maximum occurring on October 25th. The current radiant position lies at 04:04 (061) +24, which lies in western Taurus, three degrees east of the Pleiades star cluster. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Meteors from the Eta Taurids strike the atmosphere at 47km/sec., which would produce meteors of average velocity. Expected rates would be less than one per hour, no matter your location.

Orionids (ORI)

The Orionids (ORI) reached maximum activity on October 22nd. Some activity may still be seen during the morning hours from a radiant located at 06:48 (102) +16. This position lies in southwestern Gemini, close to the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed on the meridian near 0500 LDT. Current rates should be near three per hour no matter your location. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

Beta Cancrids (BCN)

Another shower derived from the IMO video database is the Beta Cancrids (BCN). This shower is active from October 25-November 3 with a peak on the 27th. This shower has been known from visual observations for some time. Video analysis have confirmed the activity but from a slightly different portion of the sky. The radiant was suspected to be active from the Cancer/Gemini border when in fact the position actually lies in the constellation of Monoceros, to the south. The radiant is located at 07:32 (113) -10, which is fifteen degrees south of the brilliant zero magnitude star Procyon (Alpha Canis Minoris). The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates should less than one per hour. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Shower Name                 RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                         km/s   NH    SH
NTA Northern Taurids      02h 28m  +18    29     1     1
STA Southern Taurids      01h 20m  +06    30     2     2
ETT Eta Taurids           04h 04m  +24    47    <1    <1
ORI Orionids              06h 08m  +16    67     3     3
BCN Beta Cancrids         07h 32m  -10    65    <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

Meteor Activity Outlook for October 16-22, 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 in general increases in October when compared to September. A major shower (the Orionids) is active most of the month along with several 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 usually the big story of the month but this year the Orionid peak coincides with the full moon, which will severely reduce the number of meteors seen. Orionid activity can be seen before and after maximum when the moon is not so troublesome. Unfortunately on these nights the Orionid rates will be low, most likely less than five per hour.

During this period the moon waxes from just past its first quarter phase to nearly full at the end of the period. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow a couple of hours of dark skies before the beginning of twilight. This window of opportunity will shrink as the week progresses becoming essentially zero by the end of the week. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three from the northern hemisphere and two for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near twenty four from the northern hemisphere and twelve 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. Evening rates are reduced this week due to lunar interference.

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 16/17. 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:

October Ursa Minorids (OUI)

Studies of the IMO video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has revealed a radiant located in Draco this time of year. Earlier visual observations placed the radiant in Ursa Minor therefore this shower is known as the October Ursa Minorids (OUI). This shower is active from October 16-28 with maximum occurring on the 24th. The moon will greatly hamper observations of this shower, especially near maximum on the 24th. On Saturday evening the radiant is located at 18:44 (281) +76. This position lies in western Draco some fifteen degrees south (above) Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris). Although the radiant is circumpolar (never sets) for most of the northern hemisphere, it is best placed as soon as it becomes dark. Striking the atmosphere at 28 km/sec., the average October Ursa Minorid meteor travels medium-slow through the sky. This shower is best seen from high northern latitudes. It is almost impossible to see from the southern hemisphere. Even at maximum, rates should be less than one per hour no matter your location.

Northern Taurids (NTA)

Recent studies of the IMO video database has revealed that activity from the Northern Taurids (NTA) does not begin until October 19th. This is nearly one month after pervious published dates. Maximum activity does not occur until November 13th so current rates will be low, lower than its southern counterpart until late in the month. The current radiant position lies near 02:28 (037) +18, which is located in central Aries, six 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. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be near one per hour, no matter your location.

Southern Taurids (STA)

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant lies at 02:32 (038) +10. This position lies on the Aries/Cetus border, three degrees west of the fourth magnitude star Mu Ceti. Since the radiant is so large, any meteor from eastern Pisces, northeastern Cetus, Aries, western Taurus, or northeastern Eridanus could be a candidate for this shower. The radiant is best placed near the meridian near 0200 LDT, but activity may be seen all night long. Although maximum activity occurred on the 10th, this is a flat plateau-like peak so activity should still be good this week. Expect to see up to three Southern Taurids per hour, no matter your location, when the radiant lies highest in the sky. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in October.

Sigma Arietids (SSA)

Another shower derived from the IMO video database is the Sigma Arietids (SSA). This shower is active from October 12-19 with a peak on the 19th. The radiant is located at 03:16 (049) +22. This position lies in eastern Aries, four degrees northeast of the fourth magnitude star Delta Arietis. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates should less than one per hour. With an entry velocity of 46 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of medium velocity. These meteors are well seen from all but the polar regions of the Earth.

Zeta Taurids (ZTA)

Another shower derived from the IMO video database is the Zeta Taurids (ZTA). This shower is active from October 12-17 with a peak on the 16th. The radiant is located at 05:26 (081) +11. This position actually lies in Orion, three degrees northwest of the third magnitude star Lambda Orionis. The radiant is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates should less than one per hour. With an entry velocity of 61 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. These meteors would be seen equally well from either hemisphere.

Orionids (ORI)

The Orionids (ORI) reach maximum activity on Friday October 22nd. Unfortunately a nearby full moon will spoil the display. The radiant is currently located at 06:08 (092) +16. This position lies in northeastern Orion, very close to the fourth magnitude star Nu Orionis. The radiant rises near 300 LDT and is best placed on the meridian near 0500. Current rates for all locations would be near three to five per hour as seen after midnight. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

Epsilon Geminids (EGE)

The Epsilon Geminids (EGE) are active from October 16th through the 27th. Maximum activity occurs on the 19th. The radiant is currently located at 06:40 (100) +29. This position lies on the Gemini/Auriga border, four degrees northwest of the third magnitude star Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum). This position is also close to the Orionid radiant. Care must taken for correct shower association. The Orionids will be far more numerous. Current rates are probably near one per hour for the northern hemisphere and less than one as seen from south of the equator. The radiant is best placed near 0600 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 70km/sec., the average Epsilon Geminid is swift.

October  Ura Majorids (OCU)

Another shower derived from the IMO video database is the October Ursa Majorids (OCU). This shower is active from October 12-19 with a peak on the 15th. On the 12th the radiant is located at 09:52 (148) +63. This position lies in western Ursa Major, fifteen degrees west of the second magnitude star Dubhe (Alpha Ursae Majoris). The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates should less than one per hour. With an entry velocity of 53 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be medium-swift. With the high northern declination of the radiant, these meteors are best seen from the northern hemisphere. It would be difficult to see any of this activity from locations south of the equator.

Leonis Minorids (LMI)

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 16-27 with maximum activity occurring on October 23rd. ZHR’s are usually low but the radiant is far removed from the Orionids and Epsilon Geminids so that any possible shower members should be easily identified. Hourly rates would be less than one this week. This radiant is currently located at 10:16 (154) +35, which places it in northeastern Leo Minor, two degrees southwest 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 fifteen 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 four 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
OUI October Ursa Minorids 18h 44m  +76    28    <1    <1
NTA Northern Taurids      02h 28m  +18    29     1     1
STA Southern Taurids      02h 32m  +10    30     3     3
SSA Sigma Arietids        03h 16m  +22    46    <1    <1
ZTA Zeta Taurids          05h 26m  +11    61    <1    <1
ORI Orionids              06h 08m  +16    67     2     2
EGE Epsilon Geminids      06h 40m  +29    70     1    <1 
OCU October Ursa Majorids 09h 12m  +64    53     1    <1
LMI Leonis Minorids       10h 16m  +35    60    <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

Meteor Activity Outlook for September 18-24, 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.

September offers longer nights in the northern hemisphere that tend to be less hazy than those experienced in mid-summer. In the sky, no major showers are visible from either hemisphere but the northern hemisphere enjoys the advantage of higher sporadic rates. Most of the shower activity this month is produced from the Perseus-Aurigid complex active this time of year. These showers rarely produce more than five meteors per hour but still manage to produce most of the shower activity seen this month. Unfortunately the Perseus-Aurigid complex lies too low in the northern sky for southern hemisphere observers to view very well. Video studies have shown that the Southern Taurids are visible as early as September 7th therefore after this date the Antihelion radiant will no longer be listed until the Taurid showers end in December. The Antihelion meteors are still active but their radiant is superimposed upon that of the more numerous Taurids, therefore it is impossible to properly separate these meteors. Observers in the southern hemisphere suffer from some of their lowest rates of the year this month. The Southern Taurid radiant is not too badly placed so observers south can expect to see a little of this activity this month.

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Thursday September 23rd. At this time the moon will be located opposite the sun and will rise as the sun sets and sets as the sun rises. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow a short window of opportunity between moonset and morning twilight to view meteor activity under dark conditions. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~2 from the northern hemisphere and ~1 from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~16 from the northern hemisphere and ~6 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.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning September 18/19. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

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 following showers are expected to be active this week:

Southern Taurids (STA)

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant lies at 00:56 (014) +05. This position lies in southern Pisces, three degrees southeast of the fourth magnitude star Delta Piscium. Since the radiant is so large, any meteor from Pisces, western Cetus, or southwestern Pegasus could be a candidate for this shower. The radiant is best placed near the meridian near 0200 LDT, but activity may be seen all night long. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. Rates this week should be near two per hour no matter your location.

Nu Eridanids (NUE)

Many radiants in the region of Eridanus and Orion have been suspected this time of year. Recent studies have verified a radiant active in Eridanus and moving on into Orion from September 3rd through the 24th with maximum activity occurring on the 6th. The Nu Eridanid (NUE) radiant is currently located at 05:00 (075) +06. This position lies in western Orion, five degrees west of the second magnitude star Bellatrix (Gamma Orionis). Old time observers may recall a radiant active in Orion this time of year called the Sigma Orionids. This may be a verification of that activity. The radiant is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates should less than one per hour this week. With an entry velocity of 68 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. With the radiant lying close to the celestial equator, these meteors are seen equally well from both hemispheres.

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
STA Southern Taurids      00h 56m  +05    30     2     2
NUE Nu Eridanids          05h 00m  +06    68    <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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