Meteor Activity Outlook for March 10-16, 2012
March 11, 2012 2 Comments
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.
As seen from the northern hemisphere, March is the slowest month for meteor activity. No major annual showers are active and only two very weak minor showers produce activity this month. The sporadic rates are also near their annual minimum so there is not much to look forward to this month except for the evening fireballs that seem to peak this time of year from the northern hemisphere. This could be due to the fact the Antiapex radiant lies highest above the horizon this time of year during the evening hours. From the southern hemisphere, activity from the Centaurid complex begins to wane with only the weak activity visible from Norma and perhaps others areas nearby. At least southern sporadic rates are still strong to make the late summer viewing a bit more pleasurable.
During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Thursday March 15th. At that time the moon will be located ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near 0200 local daylight time (LDT) for observers located in the mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will severely hamper meteor observations as the moon will be above the horizon most of the night. Only an hour or two after dusk will be free of interfering moonlight. Unfortunately meteor rates are lowest at this time but you might get lucky and see a fireball as now through April are good times to try and see early evening fireball activity. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near one for observers in the northern hemisphere and two for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near three as seen from mid-northern latitudes and six 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 this week due to the intense moonlight present most of the night.
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 March 10/11. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.
The list below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Detailed descriptions of each shower will be continued next week when lunar interference will be less severe.
Antihelion (ANT) – 12:12 (183) -02 Velocity 30km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour
Gamma Normids (GNO) 16:28 (247) -51 Velocity 56km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour