Meteor Activity Outlook for October 8-14, 2011

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 8/9. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.The following is a slightly edited version of Bob Lunsford’s excellent weekly summary of meteor activity. The original version 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 many 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 the big story of the month reaching maximum activity on the 22nd. This display can be seen equally well from both hemispheres which definitely helps out observers located in the sporadic-poor southern hemisphere this time of year.

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Wednesday October 12th. At this time the moon will lie opposite of the sun and will be in the sky all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow a couple of hours of meteor observing in dark skies before morning twilight. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and one as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near six as seen from mid-northern latitudes and four from mid-southern latitudes. 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. Rates are reduced during this period due to the intense moonlight.

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 8/9. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

Detailed descriptions of each shower will continue when the moonlight situation improves.The following showers are expected to be active this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

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
GIA Draconids             17h 28m  +54    20    <1    <1
STA Southern Taurids      02h 04m  +09    27     1     1
ORI Orionids              05h 44m  +16    67     1     1
OCT Oct. Camelopardalids  10h 48m  +79    45    <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

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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