July 8-23 meteors

The Arizona Monsoon season is in full effect. The start date for this year’s monsoon was July 9 and it hasn’t let up since then. While this means we are getting much needed rain, every night has been affected by clouds. Eight of the last 16 nights resulted in no meteor detections with another 2 only seeing 2 meteors. The forecast is for more of the same this week though rain activity may slow down for a day or two.

The number of active meteor showers has exploded over the past few weeks. While most are minor, we are specifically tracking three showers. The Perseid (PER) shower is one of the best from year to year. Resulting from dust released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, this year’s Perseids will peak during the night of Aug 11/12. A bright gibbous Moon will make this year’s Perseids a bit more subdued than usual. The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) come from the low activity short-period comet 169P/NEAT. The CAP doesn’t produce large numbers of meteors but is a steady producer during the later half of July and early August. The Southern delta Aquariids (SDA) straddle the border between minor and major shower. They are one of many showers related to a family of objects including the short-period comet 96P/Machholz, asteroid 2013 EH1, the Marsden and Kracht group of Sun-skimming comets, the Quadrantid and Daytime Arietid meteor shower. The SDAs will peak at the end of the month.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT PER SDA CAP Oth
SAL 2017-07-23  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-22  07h 39m   21  11  0   4   2   1   3
SAL 2017-07-21  01h 11m   1   0   0   0   0   0   0
SAL 2017-07-20  06h 39m   15  9   1   0   1   1   3
SAL 2017-07-19  04h 07m   7   4   1   0   0   2   0
SAL 2017-07-18  03h 31m   6   3   2   0   0   1   0
SAL 2017-07-17  00h 00m   
SAL 2017-07-16  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-15  00h 14m   1   0   0   -   -   0   1
SAL 2017-07-14  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-13  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-12  07h 04m   11  7   1   -   -   0   3
SAL 2017-07-11  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-10  00h 00m
SAL 2017-07-09  05h 42m   14  7   1   -   -   2   4
SAL 2017-07-08  00h 00m

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
PER - Perseids
SDA - Southern delta Aquariids
CAP - alpha Capricornids
Oth - other minor showers

July 1-7 Meteors

July is a month of showers in Tucson. Not only does meteor activity pick up after 6 months of a seasonal lull, but the rains return to the desert after a few months of dry and hot weather. While the rains haven’t arrived yet, they weren’t too far off. The first four nights of the month saw clear skies. The following 3 nights were affected by a brightening Moon, debris clouds from distance thunderstorms and smoke from the Burro fire in the Santa Catalina mountains to the north of us.

The SALSA3 camera system will be operating every night this month, though a few of the nights will be clouded and/or rained out due to the monsoon rains. The clouds may be a real pain during the next few nights due to the Full Moon. Brightly lit clouds have a habit of driving the meteor detection software crazy.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT CAP Oth
SAL 2017-07-07  06h 59m   14  10  1   0   3
SAL 2017-07-06  06h 47m   14  6   0   0   8
SAL 2017-07-05  04h 18m   10  5   1   0   4
SAL 2017-07-04  08h 17m   23  13  3   0   7
SAL 2017-07-03  07h 18m   21  11  0   1   1
SAL 2017-07-02  07h 50m   23  18  1   0   4
SAL 2017-07-01  07h 59m   25  15  1   2   7

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
Time - Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors 
TOT - Total number of meteors detected
SPO - Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT - Antihelions
CAP - alpha Capricornids
Oth - other minor showers

Bright comets visible this month (July 2017)

One of my responsibilities is being Coordinator of the Comet Section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO), an amateur-professional organization that has been conducting observations of solar system objects for the past 70 years.

Every month I post a review of comets that are visible in binoculars and small telescopes. This month’s review includes information on comets C/2015 V2 (Johnson), C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS), 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak, 71P/Clark and 217P/LINEAR.

Please check out my ALPO Comet Section post about observing the July’s comets.

Note, that if you do observe any of these or other comets, I am interested in your observations for both this blog and the ALPO. You do not need to be a member of the ALPO to contribute though annual membership in the ALPO is relatively affordable (as low as $14) and includes a subscription to a quarterly journal full of scientific articles on solar system objects.

June 25-30 Meteors

This post closes out the month of June for the SALSA3 meteor camera. No data was collected during the final three nights as I was on travel. The MetRec meteor detection software does support autonomous operations so I could have left the system up and running for those nights. But, the computer running the MetRec software is located in a part of the house that is not climate controlled and since temps have been routinely pushing 110F+, I didn’t want to risk damaging the computer.

The number of active showers has exploded over the past few weeks. Most of these showers are minor. Rather than list each shower below, I will only list the more prominent showers in order to declutter the table.

The best meteor during the last week of June was this Sporadic from June 26 at 06:20 UT.

062017

 

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT CAP Oth
SAL 2017-06-30  00h 00m        NO DATA 
SAL 2017-06-29  00h 00m        NO DATA
SAL 2017-06-28  00h 00m        NO DATA
SAL 2017-06-27  07h 58m   11  10  0   1   0
SAL 2017-06-26  06h 45m   13  11  0   1   1
SAL 2017-06-25  05h 41m   4   3   0   0   1

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
Time - Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors 
TOT - Total number of meteors detected
SPO - Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT - Antihelions
CAP - alpha Capricornids
Oth - other minor showers

June 19-24 Meteors

It has been hot in Tucson the past week. It’s even been hot at night. The severe heat wave and the first sign of the Southwest US Monsoon has combined to keep detected meteor rates low. Each night has been affected by some or all of the following: cirrus, forest fire smoke, dust, pollution and high nighttime temperatures. In case you are wondering, the camera works better when temps are lower so high temps can result in poorer sensitivity and fewer detections.

The image below shows one of the better meteors of the past week. The image was taken at 10:39 UT on June 21.

103911

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT SSS PPS SCA DPI JBO CAN
SAL 2017-06-24  05h 41m   10  9   0   0   0   1   0   0   0
SAL 2017-06-23  08h 13m   8   4   1   0   1   2   0   0   -
SAL 2017-06-22  05h 06m   10  7   2   0   1   0   0   0   -
SAL 2017-06-21  04h 54m   7   5   0   0   2   0   0   -   -
SAL 2017-06-20  02h 53m   3   3   0   0   0   0   -   -   -
SAL 2017-06-19  08h 15m   16  12  2   0   1   1   -   -   -

SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIS - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
Time - Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors 
TOT - Total number of meteors detected
SPO - Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT - Antihelions
SSS - Southern sigma Sagittariids
PPS - phi Piscids
SCA - sigma Capricornids
DPI - delta Piscids
JBO - June Bootids
CAN - c Andromedids
Oth - other minor showers

June 12-18 Meteors

The night-to-night variation in detected meteors is rather striking. Nightly numbers range from 8 to 23. For the most part the nights have been clear. The night with the lowest number (Jun 17) was nice and clear. I was even outside for much of that night and there the transparency was fine. June 18 was hampered by a lot of forest fire smoke. Not sure if this was the case yesterday and last night but a lot of smoke is over Tucson today from the Frye fire on Mount Graham (home to quite a few telescopes like the Large Binocular Telescope and VATT). Unfortunately Mount Graham is no stranger to fires over the past two decades. Though the temperatures are predicted to spike this week (highs of 116F are expected at my house), we are getting close to the rainy season and the weather models suggest some moisture will work into the area this week as well.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT NSA NZC SSS PPS
SAL 2017-06-18  08h 16m   14  13  1   -   -   0   0
SAL 2017-06-17  08h 04m   8   5   1   -   0   0   2
SAL 2017-06-16  08h 20m   11  10  1   -   0   0   0
SAL 2017-06-15  08h 25m   19  16  1   1   0   1   0
SAL 2017-06-14  07h 35m   15  14  1   0   0   0   -
SAL 2017-06-13  08h 25m   23  19  3   1   0   0   -
SAL 2017-06-12  08h 01m   11  9   1   1   0   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
NSA - Northern mu Sagittariids
NZC - Northern June Aquilids
SSS - Southern sigma Sagittariids
PPS - phi Piscids
Oth - other minor showers

June 1-11 Meteors

The summer monsoon rains aren’t expected to show up in Tucson till late this month or early July. Still, the monsoon moisture is not too far away and the beginning of June has seen its share of clouds. As a result, recent meteor detections have been rather low. Then again early June is a time of low meteor rates in general.

One thing to notice about the table below is the rapid increase in the number of active meteor showers. While all of these showers are of the very minor variety, the number of active showers will continue to increase. Since some of these showers while produce significant numbers of meteors, we should see the nightly rates start to inch upward by July.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT NSC SOP JMC NSA ARI NZC SSS
SAL 2017-06-11  08h 26m   17  12  3   -   -   -   1   1   0   0
SAL 2017-06-10  08h 11m   8   7   0   -   -   -   0   0   1   0
SAL 2017-06-09  07h 58m   8   6   2   -   -   -   0   0   0   -
SAL 2017-06-08  05h 24m   8   8   0   -   -   -   0   0   -   -
SAL 2017-06-07  06h 24m   4   4   0   -   0   -   0   0   -   -
SAL 2017-06-06  08h 29m   7   5   2   -   0   -   0   0   -   -
SAL 2017-06-05  07h 53m   17  12  1   -   0   1   1   -   -   -
SAL 2017-06-04  08h 12m   15  13  1   -   0   0   1   -   -   -
SAL 2017-06-03  04h 39m   9   9   0   0   0   0   0   -   -   -
SAL 2017-06-02  08h 30m   20  18  0   0   1   0   1   -   -   -
SAL 2017-06-01  06h 20m   6   5   1   0   0   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 - Anthelions
NSC - Northern omega Scorpiids
SOP - Southern May Ophiucids
JMC - June mu Cassiopeiids
NSA - Northern mu Sagittariids
ARI - Daytime Arietids
NZC - Northern June Aquilids
SSS - Southern sigma Sagittariids
Oth - other minor showers