Dec 23/24 to Jan 1/2 Meteors
January 2, 2010
Hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday season.
The past week has seen rather low meteor activity with the bright Moon has helped to keep meteor counts low. Also there weren’t too many active showers with only the December Leonis Minorids producing consistent, if low, activity.
This should all change tonight when the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks. This is actually one of the better showers yet it is notoriously difficult to observe. For starters, it is located at a high northern declination which makes it impossible to see from most of the Southern Hemisphere. Even for northern observers, the time of peak intensity is vitally important. Unlike the Geminids, Orionids and Perseids which have broad peaks and produce high meteor numbers for a few days, the Quadrantids have a very sharp peak. So unless you are observing within hours of its peak, meteor numbers may be much lower than expected.
Last year the peak was perfectly timed for observers in North America and ZHR rates as high as 160 per hour were reported. From my moderately light polluted skies, I observed ~60 per hour. This year the peak is predicted for Jan 3 at ~19 hours UT. That’s 6+ hours after sunrise from North America. Based on last year’s activity profile the ZHR rate will be in the 40-80 per hour range. Unfortunately the bright Moon is poorly placed for meteor watching this time and the actual rates will be much lower. Add the fact that most observers are located under skies with some amount of light pollution and actual observable rates may only be in the 5-15 per hour range.
Bob’s notes from the night of Jan 1/2 : “After a cloudy day the clouds began thinning during the evening hours. I was able to start the camera shortly after 2300 PST. Skies remained clear the remainder of the night. Morning meteor activity was significantly weaker than what was observed on the previous night. Despite being only one day before maximum, the Quadrantids are barely showing any signs of life.”
… for the night of Dec 31/ Jan 1 : “The sky was clear most of the night except for a few wisps of high clouds that drifted by during the late morning hours. Despite the light from the full moon, meteor rates were decent throughout the night.”
… for the night of Dec 30/31 : “I woke to clear skies after a cloudy and wet evening. I figured that a small sample of the night’s activity was better than nothing!”
… for the night of Dec 29/30 : “After a couple of days of clouds the skies cleared tonight. The timing was perfect as more clouds arrived at dawn and did not affect observations. Rates were reduced due to the bright moon but the transparent skies still made observations worthwhile.”
… for the night of Dec 26/27 : “Clouds prevented observations during the early evening hours. I noticed the sky had cleared at 23:00 PST so I started the camera shortly thereafter. The sky remained clear until near 4:00am PST (12UT) when a thick layer of cirrus moved in from the west. This greatly reduced the observed activity during the final 1.83 hours of observations.”
… for the night of Dec 25/26 : “Meteor activity was a bit more uniform tonight. Totals were nearly identical to the previous two nights. It was mostly clear except for some cirrus and cumulus clouds toward the end of the session.”
… for the night of Dec 24/25 : “It was another strange night for meteor activity. There was some cirrus present as dusk but they were thin and soon dissipated. Despite the clear skies evening rates were very low, beyond the effect of the first quarter moon. Once again the morning hours saw variable rates under clear skies. A full third of the entire night’s activity occurred between 11-12 UT (3-4am PST).”
… for the night of Dec 23/24 : “It was clear until 1100 UT (3:00 AM PST) when cirrus clouds began to drift over. Rates were compromised the remainder of the session.”
Obs Date(UT) Time TOT SPO ANT DLM AHY JLE QUA TUS 2010-01-02 12h 08m 6 5 0 0 1 0 0 SDG 2010-01-02 06h 32m 20 16 0 3 0 0 1 TUS 2010-01-01 11h 31m 8 7 0 0 0 0 1 SDG 2010-01-01 11h 49m 39 33 2 0 3 0 1 TUS 2009-12-31 01h 51m 4 3 0 1 0 0 - SDG 2009-12-31 01h 45m 6 6 0 0 0 0 - TUS 2009-12-30 05h 30m 2 2 0 0 - - - SDG 2009-12-30 11h 36m 33 28 4 1 0 - - TUS 2009-12-29 00h 10m 1 1 0 0 - - - SDG 2009-12-29 00h 00m Clouds all night TUS 2009-12-28 11h 30m 1 1 0 0 - - - SDG 2009-12-28 00h 00m Clouds all night TUS 2009-12-27 11h 29m 15 9 2 4 - - - SDG 2009-12-27 06h 45m 25 19 4 2 - - - TUS 2009-12-26 11h 28m 15 11 0 4 - - - SDG 2009-12-26 11h 44m 43 39 3 1 - - - TUS 2009-12-25 11h 29m 11 8 0 3 - - - SDG 2009-12-25 12h 05m 42 36 1 5 - - - TUS 2009-12-24 08h 09m 11 3 4 4 - - - SDG 2009-12-24 12h 05m 42 32 6 4 - - - 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 DLM - December Leonis Minorids AHY - Alpha Hydrids JLE - January Leonids QUA - Quadrantids