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

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

Mid September Meteors

Finally, for the first time since the peak night of the Perseids we got a few clear nights in Tucson. The nights of Sep 16/17 and 17/18 saw 44 and 37 meteors being detected by the SALSA3 camera system, respectively. Most of the meteors are sporadics meaning they are not affiliated with any known shower. The Orionids (ORI) which will be a major producer of meteors for a few days around its Oct 21 peak were producing a few meteors per night. Other minor showers such as the September Perseids (SPE), September Lyncids (SLY) and Delta Aurigids (DAU) were occasional meteor producers.

A new meteor shower was reported by Petr Jenniskens in the Central Bureau Electronic Telegrams. The Chi Cygnids (CCY) was seen in video data from Europe and California on the nights of Sep 14 and 15 UT. A quick look through my data did not turn up any CCY candidates.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT ORI SPE SLY DAU Oth
SAL 2015-09-20  08h 55m   28  19  3   1   -   1   1   3
SAL 2015-09-19  06h 48m   17  14  0   1   -   0   1   1
SAL 2015-09-18  09h 31m   37  26  4   2   -   1   3   1
SAL 2015-09-17  10h 30m   44  36  4   2   1   0   -   2
SAL 2015-09-16  04h 29m   9   4   2   1   1   0   -   1
SAL 2015-09-15  08h 54m   16  8   2   1   0   3   -   2
SAL 2015-09-14  03h 50m   21  13  1   5   1   0   -   1
SAL 2015-09-13  05h 05m   27  17  4   1   2   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)
ANT - Antihelions
ORI - Orionids
SPE - September Perseids
SLY - September Lyncids
DAU - Delta Aurigids
Oth - other minor showers

Early September Meteors

It’s been hard to get a good idea of nightly meteor rates recently. There hasn’t been a single night over the past ~2 weeks that wasn’t affected in some way by clouds. One night (Sep 4/5) was completely clouded out and another (Aug 31/Sep 1) saw a single meteor being detected between the clouds. Unfortunately I had a camera problem on the night of Sep 9/10 that saw no data collected. Not sure what happened but at some point (presumably) early in the night, the power strip that the camera and controlling computer are plugged into was switched off. My guess is our cat knocked into it.

We are currently between major showers. The Perseids of August are long over and the Orionids of October are slowly building. Even though the peak of the Orionids are over a month away, it is one of the most active showers out there right now. The September Perseids (no relations to the Perseids of August) also produced a small number of meteors during the nights of Sep 6/7/8/9. Most years this shower is a minor producer of meteors but experienced outbursts in 2008 and 2013. The 2008 outburst was detected by an earlier incarnation of my SALSA meteor video system and was the subject of the very first Transient Sky post.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT ORI SDA AUR SPE SLY Oth
SAL 2015-09-12  09h 11m   17  11  1   4   -   -   0   1   0
SAL 2015-09-11  03h 50m   9   8   0   1   0   0   0   0   0
SAL 2015-09-10  00h 00m          --- Camera Off ---
SAL 2015-09-09  03h 59m   16  11  1   1   0   0   2   1   0
SAL 2015-09-08  04h 14m   6   4   0   1   0   0   1   0   0
SAL 2015-09-07  08h 42m   19  15  2   0   0   0   2   0   0
SAL 2015-09-06  08h 49m   23  15  3   3   0   1   0   1   0
SAL 2015-09-05  00h 00m            --- Clouds ---
SAL 2015-09-04  06h 59m   13  12  0   1   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2015-09-03  04h 38m   8   8   0   0   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2015-09-02  02h 25m   3   2   1   0   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2015-09-01  00h 18m   1   1   0   0   0   0   -   -   0
SAL 2015-08-31  03h 36m   6   4   1   0   0   1   -   -   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 - Antihelions
ORI - Orionids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
AUR - Aurigids
SPE - September Perseids
SLY - September Lyncids
Oth - other minor showers

Aug 24-30 Meteors

The usual Arizona monsoon weather kept the number of detected meteors down this past week. We did get one very clear night (Aug 28/29) which saw 38 meteors imaged. That’s a bit higher than expected and for awhile I wondered if a small outburst from an unknown shower had occurred. Instead it seems that all of the background active minor showers were a little more active that night.

Now that the Perseids are done for 2015, we can look forward to this year’s Orionids. These pieces of Comet Halley peak in mid-October. Though we have some time till the Orionids are worth staying up late for, the never tired SALSA3 camera can watch as this shower slowly ramps up in activity.

Obs Date(UT)     Time    TOT SPO ANT ORI SDA KCG AUR Oth
SAL 2015-08-30  08h 25m   17  15  2   0   0   0   0   0
SAL 2015-08-29  09h 49m   38  26  2   3   2   3   2   0
SAL 2015-08-28  03h 14m   8   6   1   1   0   0   0   0
SAL 2015-08-27  04h 05m   18  14  1   2   1   0   0   0
SAL 2015-08-26  04h 43m   11  6   2   -   3   0   0   0
SAL 2015-08-25  00h 00m         --- CLOUDS/RAIN ---
SAL 2015-08-24  00h 20m   1   1   0   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 - Antihelions
ORI - Orionids
SDA - Southern Delta Aquariids
KCG - Kappa Cygnids
Oth - other minor showers