Meteor Activity Outlook for August 28-September 3, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

September offers longer nights in the northern hemisphere that tend to be less hazy than those experienced in mid-summer. In the sky, no major showers are visible from either hemisphere but the northern hemisphere enjoys the advantage of higher sporadic rates. Most of the shower activity this month is produced from the Perseus-Aurigid complex active this time of year. These showers rarely produce more than five meteors per hour but still manage to produce most of the shower activity seen this month. Unfortunately the Perseus-Aurigid complex lies too low in the northern sky for southern hemisphere observers to view very well. Video studies have shown that the Southern Taurids are visible as early as September 7th therefore after this date the Antihelion radiant will no longer be listed until the Taurid showers end in December. The Antihelion meteors are still active but their radiant is superimposed upon that of the more numerous Taurids, therefore it is impossible to properly separate these meteors. Observers in the southern hemisphere suffer from some of their lowest rates of the year this month. The Southern Taurid radiant is not too badly placed so observers south can expect to see a little of this activity this month.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Wednesday September 1st. At this time the moon will be located ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) for locations in the mid-northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and remain in the sky the remainder of the night. Meteor observations are difficult under such circumstances unless your sky is transparent. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~3 from the northern hemisphere and ~2 from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~12 from the northern hemisphere and ~8 as seen from the southern hemisphere. 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. During this period, moonlight reduces activity seen during the morning hours.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 28/29. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are slightly reduced due to moonlight.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

August Draconids (AUD)

The last few remnants from the August Draconids (AUD) may be seen this weekend. The radiant is currently located at 18:44 (281) +63. This position lies in southern Draco, ten degrees east of the second magnitude star Eltanin (Gamma Draconis). With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to move slowly. The radiant is best placed near 2200 Local Daylight Time (10pm LDT) when it lies highest in the sky. Due to its high northern declination this shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 23:12 (348) -03. This area of the sky lies in western Pisces, three degrees north of the fourth magnitude star Phi Aquarii. This radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Due to the large size of this radiant, any meteor radiating from eastern Aquarius, southern Pegasus, western Pisces, or western Cetus could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be ~2 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Alpha Aurigids (AUR)

The Alpha Aurigids (AUR) is the first radiant of the Perseus-Aurigid complex to become active. Maximum occurs on September 1, so rates this weekend will be very low. Even at maximum with a last quarter moon in the sky, rates will most likely not exceed one shower member per hour. The radiant position at maximum is 06:04 (091) +36. This position lies in eastern Auriga only one degree southeast of the third magnitude star Theta Aurigae. This is different than the old position which was close to Capella (Alpha Aurigae). Video results from the 2007 outburst of this shower showed that a majority of the activity came from the radiant near Theta Aurigae. The radiant is best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest in a dark sky. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. Activity can be seen, if it occurs, from the southern tropic regions during the last few hours before dawn.

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
AUG August Draconids     18h 44m  +63    23    <1    <1
ANT Antihelions          23h 12m  -03    30     2     3
AUR Alpha Aurigids       06h 04m  +36    67     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

Meteor Activity Outlook for August 21-27, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity kicks into high gear in August as seen from the northern hemisphere. The main reason for this activity surge is the Perseid shower that peaks on August 13. This shower is active most of the month and remains above the level of the sporadic background for a week centered on August 13. The sporadic activity is also increasing as seen from the northern hemisphere and is now nearly double the rates from just three months ago. As seen from south of the equator, meteor rates are still decent but falling rapidly. The sporadic rates seen at the beginning of the month will be twice as high as those seen during the last days of the month. The Perseid radiant does not rise high into the sky as seen in the southern hemisphere so rates from this shower are greatly reduced when compared to the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its full quarter phase on Tuesday August 24th. At this time the moon will be located opposite the sun and will be in the sky all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set near the start of morning twilight, depending on your latitude. The further north one is located, the earlier the moon will set, allowing more time to observe under dark skies. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~2 no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~8 from the northern hemisphere and ~6 as seen from the southern hemisphere. 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. During this period, moonlight reduces activity seen during the morning hours.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 21/22. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are slightly reduced due to moonlight.

The list below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

The detailed descriptions will be continued next week when the moonlight is not
as intense.

Shower Name                RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                        km/s   NH    SH
AUG August Draconids     18h 28m  +63    23    <1    <1
ANT Antihelions          22h 48m  -06    30     2     3
SDA Delta Aquariids      00h 01m  -10    42    <1    <1
PER Perseids             04h 04m  +60    61     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

Meteor Activity Outlook for August 14-20, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity kicks into high gear in August as seen from the northern hemisphere. The main reason for this activity surge is the Perseid shower that peaks on August 13. This shower is active most of the month and remains above the level of the sporadic background for a week centered on August 13. The sporadic activity is also increasing as seen from the northern hemisphere and is now nearly double the rates from just three months ago. As seen from south of the equator, meteor rates are still decent but falling rapidly. The sporadic rates seen at the beginning of the month will be twice as high as those seen during the last days of the month. The Perseid radiant does not rise high into the sky as seen in the southern hemisphere so rates from this shower are greatly reduced when compared to the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Monday August 16th. At this time the moon will be located ninety degrees east of the sun and will set near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) for locations in the mid-northern latitudes of the northern hemisphere. This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set just prior to midnight for the locations mentioned above, and will be gone from the sky during the active morning hours. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~3 no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~35 from the northern hemisphere and ~20 as seen from the southern hemisphere. 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. During this period, moonlight reduces activity seen during the morning hours.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 14/15. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

August Draconids (AUG)

Activity from the August Draconids (AUD) can be first detected near August 11th from a radiant located at 18:14 (273) +62. This position lies in southern Draco, ten degrees north of the second magnitude star Eltanin (Gamma Draconis). Maximum activity is not predicted until August 21st so current rates would be low, <1 per night. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to move slowly. The radiant is best placed near 2200 Local Daylight Time (10pm LDT) when it lies highest in the sky. Due to its high northern declination this shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Kappa Cygnids (KCG)

The Kappa Cygnids (KCG) are active from a wide radiant located at 19:06 (287) +52. This position is further south than previous publications. It has been updated through the use of video observations by the International Meteor Organization. The new location lies on the Cygnus/Draco border, three degrees southwest of the faint star Kappa Cygni. Maximum activity is now predicted to occur on August 14th. Current rates would be ~2 per hour from the northern hemisphere and <1 shower member per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to travel slower than average. The radiant is best placed near 2300 LDT (11pm LDT) when it lies nearly overhead for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its high northern declination this activity is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 22:20 (335) -08. This area of the sky lies in central Aquarius, 3 degrees southeast of the 4th magnitude Theta Aquarii. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT) when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Due to the large size of this radiant, any meteor radiating from northern Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, or southern Pegasus could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be ~2 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Delta Aquariids (SDA)

The Delta Aquariids (SDA) reach maximum activity on Friday July 30th. The shower is still active from a radiant located at 23:36 (354) -12. This position lies in eastern Aquarius, 3 degrees northwest of the 4th magnitude star Omega2 Aquarii. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest in the sky. The optimal latitudes for viewing this shower lie in the southern tropics where the radiant passes overhead. With an entry velocity of 42 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of average velocities. Expect rates of <1 per hour north of the equator and 1 per hour from the southern hemisphere.

August Piscids (AUP)

A new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the August Piscids (AUP). This shower is only active on eight nights from August 2-9 with maximum activity occurring on the 4th. At maximum, the radiant is located at 00:44 (011) +19. This area of the sky is located in northern Pisces, 10 degrees north of the 4th magnitude star Delta Piscium. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 66 km/sec., the average August Piscid meteor would be swift.

Eridanids (ERI)

A second new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the Eridanids (ERI). This shower is active from August 4th through the 18th with maximum activity occurring on the 9th. Hourly rates could reach ~2 per hour at maximum. The radiant is currently located at 03:12 (048) -09. This shower was observed by me during the Perseid maximum last week. The radiant is currently located at 03:12 (048) -09. This area of the sky is located in western Eridanus, 3 degrees east of the faint star Eta Eridani. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 64 km/sec., the average Eridanid meteor would be swift.

Perseids (PER)

The Perseids (PER) reached maximum activity on Friday August 13th with zenith hourly rates (ZHR’s) near 90. They are still active from a radiant located at 03:24 (051) +58. This position actually lies in southern Camelopardalis, eight degrees north of the second magnitude star Mirfak (Alpha Persei). The radiant is best placed during the last hour before the start of morning twilight when it lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates would be ~20 per hour, falling to <10 by the end of the week. Activity from the Perseids is not well seen south south of the equator and completely invisible south of 40 degrees south latitude. With an entry velocity of 61 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are slightly reduced due to moonlight.

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
AUG August Draconids     18h 14m  +61    23    <1    <1
KCG Kappa Cygnids        19h 06m  +52    23     1    <1
ANT Antihelions          22h 20m  -08    30     2     3
SDA Delta Aquariids      23h 36m  -12    42     1     2
ERI Eridanids            03h 12m  -09    64     2     2
PER Perseids             03h 24m  +58    61     3     2

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

Meteor Activity Outlook for August 7-13, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

Meteor activity kicks into high gear in August as seen from the northern hemisphere. The main reason for this activity surge is the Perseid shower that peaks on August 13. This shower is active most of the month and remains above the level of the sporadic background for a week centered on August 13. The sporadic activity is also increasing as seen from the northern hemisphere and is now nearly double the rates from just three months ago. As seen from south of the equator, meteor rates are still decent but falling rapidly. The sporadic rates seen at the beginning of the month will be twice as high as those seen during the last days of the month. The Perseid radiant does not rise high into the sky as seen in the southern hemisphere so rates from this shower are greatly reduced when compared to the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Tuesday August 10th. At this time the moon will be located near the sun and is not visible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will not cause any trouble for morning observers. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~4 no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~24 from the northern hemisphere and ~21 as seen from the southern hemisphere. 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. During this period, moonlight reduces activity seen during the morning hours.

The radiant positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 7/8. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

August Draconids (AUG)

Activity from the August Draconids (AUD) can be first detected near August 11th from a radiant located at 18:00 (270) +61. This position lies in southern Draco, close to the second magnitude star Eltanin (Gamma Draconis). Maximum activity is not predicted until August 21st so current rates would be low, <1 per night. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to move slowly. The radiant is best placed near 2200 Local Daylight Time (10pm LDT) when it lies highest in the sky. Due to its high northern declination this shower is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Kappa Cygnids (KCG)

The Kappa Cygnids (KCG) are active from a wide radiant located at 18:50 (282) +47. This position is further south than previous publications. It has been updated through the use of video observations by the International Meteor Organization. The new location lies on the Lyra/Draco border, eight degrees northwest of the brilliant star Vega (Alpha Lyrae). Maximum activity is now predicted to occur on August 14th. Current rates would be 1 per hour from the northern hemisphere and <1 shower member per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 23 km/sec. most of these meteors will appear to travel slower than average. The radiant is best placed near 2300 LDT (11pm LDT) when it lies nearly overhead for much of the Northern Hemisphere. Due to its high northern declination this activity is not well seen from the southern hemisphere.

Alpha Capricornids (CAP)

The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) are active from a wide radiant located at 20:45 (311) -07. This position lies in western Aquarius near the faint star 3 Aquarii. The radiant is best placed near 0100 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Current rates should be ~1 per hour no matter your location. Don’t confuse these meteors with the antihelion meteors, which have a radiant just to the east. Both radiants need to be in your field of view to properly sort these meteors. With an entry velocity of 25 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be slow, a bit slower than the antihelions. This radiant is well seen except for far northern latitudes where it remains twilight all night long and the radiant does not rise as high into their sky.

Antihelions (ANT)

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 21:52 (328) -11. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Capricornus, 4 degrees northeast of Deneb Algedi (Delta Capricornii). This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT) when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Due to the large size of this radiant, any meteor radiating from northwestern Piscis Austrinus, Microscopium, Capricornus, western Aquarius, or southeastern Aquila could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be ~2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and ~3 per hour as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Delta Aquariids (SDA)

The Delta Aquariids (SDA) reach maximum activity on Friday July 30th. The shower is still active from a radiant located at 23:12 (348) -14. This position lies in central Aquarius, 4 degrees northeast of the 3rd magnitude star Delta Aquarii. The radiant is best placed near 0300 LDT, when it lies highest in the sky. The optimal latitudes for viewing this shower lie in the southern tropics where the radiant passes overhead. With an entry velocity of 42 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of average velocities. Expect rates of 1 per hour north of the equator and 2 per hour from the southern hemisphere.

August Piscids (AUP)

A new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the August Piscids (AUP). This shower is only active on eight nights from August 2-9 with maximum activity occurring on the 4th. At maximum, the radiant is located at 00:44 (011) +19. This area of the sky is located in northern Pisces, 10 degrees north of the 4th magnitude star Delta Piscium. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 66 km/sec., the average August Piscid meteor would be swift.

Perseids (PER)

The Perseids (PER) are active from a radiant located at 02:44 (041) +56. This position lies in northwestern Perseus very close to the 4th magnitude star Eta Persei. The radiant is best placed during the last hour before the start of morning twilight when it lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates would be ~5 per hour but this will swell to ~60 per hour at maximum activity on the mornings of the 12th and 13th. The latest predictions have the Earth encountering a trail of debris produced by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle in the year 441 AD. This very old trail is not expected to produce an outburst but should enhance rates by 10-15 meteors per hour near 1200 Universal Time (05:00am PDT) on the 13th. Activity from the Perseids is not visible south of 40 degrees south latitude. With an entry velocity of 61 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Eridanids (ERI)

A second new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the Eridanids (ERI). This shower is active from August 4th through the 18th with maximum activity occurring on the 9th. Hourly rates could reach near two per hour at maximum. The radiant is currently located at 02:50 (042) -11. This area of the sky is located in extreme eastern Cetus about a dozen degrees south of Phycochroma (Delta Ceti). This radiant could account for the activity many observers have reported (including myself) this time of year from this portion of the sky. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 64 km/sec., the average Eridanid meteor would be swift.

Beta Perseids (BPE)

Still another new shower discovered by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel from the IMO’s video database are the Beta Perseids (BPE). This shower is active from August 4th through the 15th with maximum activity occurring on the 7th. Hourly rates are expected to remain low throughout this duration. The radiant is currently located at 03:02 (046) +40. This position lies only one degree southwest of the famous eclipsing variable star known as Algol (Beta Persei). This radiant has been suspected for many years and may have also been known as the Alpha-Beta Perseids. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. Hourly rates are expected to be <1. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average Beta Perseid meteor would be swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are slightly reduced due to moonlight.

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
AUG August Draconids     18h 00m  +61    23    <1    <1
KCG Kappa Cygnids        18h 50m  +47    23     1    <1
CAP Alpha Capricornids   20h 45m  -07    25     1     1
ANT Antihelions          21h 52m  -11    30     2     3
SDA Delta Aquariids      23h 12m  -14    42     1     2
AUP August Piscids       00h 44m  +19    66    <1    <1
PER Perseids             00h 44m  +51    61     3     2
ERI Eridanids            02h 50m  -11    64     2     2
BPE Beta Perseids        03h 02m  +40    67    <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
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