May 9/10 Meteors

Rain and clouds have been the rule in the Tucson area lately. After 1.5 months of no rain, we got 0.30″ at the house. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Especially since the nights are rarely completely cloudy as was the case over the past two nights. Both nights saw a few hours of clear skies resulting in some meteor detections.

While the most active shower is still the fading Eta Aquariids (ETA), more Eta Lyrids (ELY) were detected last night. The ELYs are from Comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock which passed very close to Earth (0.03 au) in 1983 and reached 1st magnitude. It is a long-period comet currently on an orbit with a ~1000 year period. The ELY are a minor shower but produced a few meteors each year in early May.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT XLI ETA ELY SOP
SAL 2017-05-10  03h 02m   12  8   0   0   1   3   0
SAL 2017-05-09  02h 49m   3   2   1   0   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
XLI - April Chi Librids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
ELY - Eta Lyrids
SOP - Southern May Ophiucids
Oth - other minor showers

May 6/7/8 Meteors

We are currently experiencing the peak of the Eta Aquariids (ETA) meteor shower. The ETAs should start ramping down though, to be honest, the bright Moon will make any ETA watching very difficult in the coming days anyway.

Last night was the first mostly cloudy night in Tucson in quite some time. Luckily, it was clear for the last 2 hours of the night when the ETAs were active. The weather will continue to be poor for astronomy for the next few nights. In fact, we got our first rain since the very end of March (~0.13″ this afternoon with more expected tonight and tomorrow).

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT XLI ETA ELY SOP
SAL 2017-05-08  02h 17m   14  4   0   0   10  0   0
SAL 2017-05-07  08h 57m   21  11  2   1   7   0   0
SAL 2017-05-06  11h 40m   19  5   3   0   11  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
XLI - April Chi Librids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
ELY - Eta Lyrids
SOP - Southern May Ophiucids
Oth - other minor showers

May 4 & 5 Meteors

We are now passing closest to the orbits of the Eta Aquariid (ETA) meteor stream. As a result, the number of detected ETAs has been increasing over the past 5 nights (6 on 5/1, 4 on 5/2, 9 on 5/3, 12 on 5/4 and 12 on 5/5).

My good friend Salvador Aguirre of Hermosillo, Mexico operates an all-sky camera and has been posting images and movies of the ETAs on his blog.

I was outside at 4 am this morning observing comets. Even though I wasn’t watching for meteors I did see one ETA. Comet C/2015 ER61 (PANSTARRS) is located only a few degrees from the ETA radiant. While observing the comet in 10×50 binoculars, I was able to watch an ETA brighten to visibility, move about a degree or two, leave behind a short lived trail and then flare out. This all happened within the small field-of-view of the binoculars. It was quite a sight.

The ETAs will continue to be good for the next few nights though the amount of dark time at the end of the night will be severely shortened by the Moon by early next week.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT XLI ABO PBO ETA ELY SOP
SAL 2017-05-05  09h 11m   24  10  0   0   -   -   12  1   0
SAL 2017-05-04  09h 13m   27  13  0   1   0   0   12  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 - Anthelions
XLI - April Chi Librids
ABO - Alpha Bootids
PBO - Phi Bootids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
ELY - Eta Lyrids
SOP - Southern May Ophiucids
Oth - other minor showers

May 3 Meteors

The Eta Aquariids are getting more active as we approach this weekend’s peak. This morning nine ETAs were observed which is a bump up from the 4 and 6 we saw the past two nights. Though my camera is monitoring 4 other showers, all of them were quiet last night (at least in my cameras field-of-view).

The Eta Aquariids are a nice shower though only observable during the last few hours of the night. If you want to learn more about the Eta Aquariids and how to observe them, go check out Bob Lunsford’s write-up at the American Meteor Society.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT XLI ABO PBO ETA ELY
SAL 2017-05-03  08h 40m   24  12  3   0   0   0   9   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
XLI - April Chi Librids
ABO - Alpha Bootids
PBO - Phi Bootids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
ELY - Eta Lyrids
Oth - other minor showers

May 2 Meteors

Last night was another clear night over Tucson. Though the number of detected meteors dropped from one night ago, meteor rates are still healthy. The Eta Aquariids (ETA) are active during the last hours of the night. Hopefully rates will climb as we approach their peak in a few nights (May 4/5).

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT XLI ABO PBO ETA 
SAL 2017-05-02  09h 18m   19  14  1   0   0   0   4  

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
XLI - April Chi Librids
ABO - Alpha Bootids
PBO - Phi Bootids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
Oth - other minor showers

May 1 Meteors

It has been way too long since I’ve updated this blog. Due to the constant juggle of work, family and other volunteer astronomical endeavors, updating this blog has often fallen to the bottom of the priority list. Even though this is often the case, I continue to observe comets (and coordinate the ALPO Comet Section) and run my SALSA3 meteor camera system (still part of the IMO Video Network using the MetRec meteor detection software).

The spring is usually the doldrums for meteor observing as their are few major showers and low numbers of sporadic meteors. Early May is a bit of a spring anomaly as there is a major shower active, the Comet Halley-produced Eta Aquariids (ETA). Last night my camera detected 25 meteors of which 6 were ETAs. ETA numbers should slowly increase as we approach the ETA peak on the night of May 4/5.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO XLI ABO PBO ETA 
SAL 2017-05-01  09h 20m   25  15  2   0   0   6  

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)
XLI - April Chi Librids
ABO - Alpha Bootids
PBO - Phi Bootids
ETA - Eta Aquariids
Oth - other minor showers

Early October Meteors

A quick perusal of the number of detection by the SALSA3 meteor camera shows nightly rates that range from 1 to 36. While there are natural variations in the number of meteors observed per night, the very low values are mainly due to clouds blocking the sky and resulting in fewer meteors being seen. Case in point, the night of Oct 7 was cloudy and rainy. A sole meteor was detected through the clouds. The meteors must have been fairly bright to have been seen at all.

Of the active showers, the Northern and Southern Taurids (NTA and STA) and Orionids (ORI) contribute about a quarter of all of the meteors during the first part of October. The Orionids will continue to grow more prominent as we approach their Oct 21 peak. This shower is usually a major shower and can produce up a ZHR of up to 60-80. But it also experiences a ~12 year cycle in peak activity due to Jupiter’s gravity moving the densest part of the Orionid dust trail towards and away from Earth’s orbit (ZHR=70 in 2007, ZHR=39 in 2008, ZHR=45 in 2009, ZHR=38 in 2010, ZHR=33 in 2011, ZHR=25 with short bursts to 44 in 2012, ZHR=21 in 2014). This year should continue the recent trend towards low rates though, as in 2012, short lived bursts of greater activity can occur.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO NTA STA ORI SLY DAU EGE OCA GIA Oth
SAL 2015-10-11  10h 59m   33  20  3   3   3   -   -   4   -   -   0
SAL 2015-10-10  09h 41m   20  14  1   3   1   -   0   1   -   0   0
SAL 2015-10-09  09h 02m   20  14  2   2   0   -   0   0   -   2   0
SAL 2015-10-08  11h 12m   29  19  1   2   5   -   1   0   -   1   0
SAL 2015-10-07  00h 09m   1   1   0   0   0   -   0   0   0   0   0
SAL 2015-10-06  07h 58m   17  11  3   1   0   -   1   1   0   0   0
SAL 2015-10-05  06h 28m   13  10  2   0   0   0   0   0   1   -   0
SAL 2015-10-04  06h 39m   16  10  1   4   1   0   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2015-10-03  10h 34m   34  21  2   4   4   0   1   1   -   -   1
SAL 2015-10-02  10h 11m   36  23  1   6   1   1   0   2   -   -   1
SAL 2015-10-01  10h 59m   35  21  0   2   4   2   3   2   -   -   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)
NTA - Northern Taurids
STA - Southern Taurids
ORI - Orionids
SLY - September Lyncids
DAU - Delta Aurigids
EGE - Epsilon Geminids
OCA - October Camelopardalids
GIA - Draconids (also called the Giacobinids)
Oth - other minor showers