Nov 28/29 Meteors

After a few days and nights of clouds and some much needed rain, the skies cleared up over Tucson and San Diego. But last night still was hampered by less than great weather. In Tucson, clouds were a problem for the first few hours of the night and then fog formed during the last couple of hours. In San Diego, clouds were also an occasional problem.

Two minor showers have become active during the past few nights. Neither shower is expected to produce more than 2-3 meteors per hour at their peak.

The December Monocerotids (sometimes just called the Monocerotids) are produced by Comet C/1917 F1 (Mellish). Discovered in 1917 this bright comet is on a ~145 year orbit and isn’t due back till around 2062. There is evidence that this shower may have produced a number of bright fireballs during the 11th through 16th century. The shower is predicted to peak on December 7th-9th with a paltry 2 meteors per hour radiating from the faint constellation of Monoceros (located just east of Orion).

The December Phoenicids (also just called the Phoenicids) radiate from the far southern constellation of Phoenix. Due to its southern radiant, this shower is very difficult to observe from the Northern Hemisphere. The shower results from the break-up or splitting of Comet P/1819 W1 (Blanpain) in 1819. Most years the shower only produces a few meteors per hour but on occasion up to 100 meteors per hour have been seen (1887, 1938 and 1956). No further outbursts are predicted until 2050 though that doesn’t mean we can’t be surprised. The shower is predicted to peak on December 6. Note, that though the Phoenicids are very difficult to see from the Northern Hemisphere, Bob’s San Diego camera picked one up last night.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT MON PHO
TUS  2008-11-29  10h 12m  9   8   1   0   0
SDG  2008-11-29  11h 29m  50  41  3   5   1

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
MON – December Monocerotids
PHO – December Phoenicids

About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

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