March 16-31 Meteors

March continues the “doldrum” season of meteor observing. With no major showers active and sporadic activity at a minimum, this time of the year sees the lowest meteor rates. April is also a bit dull though one major shower, the Lyrids, will spice things up for a few nights.

The second half of March did minor but consistent activity from two showers, the Eta Virginids (EVI) (discussed in a previous post) and the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE). The ZSE were produced by an unknown retrograde long-period comet with a perihelion near 0.99 AU from the Sun and inclination of 150º.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT GNO EVI XHE NVI ZSE
SAL  2014-03-31   10h 22m   15  11  2   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-30   10h 00m   9   8   1   -   0   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-29   10h 11m   17  16  0   -   1   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-28   09h 51m   15  12  1   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-27   09h 28m   6   5   1   -   0   -   -   0
SAL  2014-03-26   10h 31m   12  7   2   -   1   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-25   09h 19m   19  16  1   -   0   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-24   09h 51m   5   4   0   -   0   -   -   1
SAL  2014-03-23   10h 30m   21  14  4   -   1   -   -   2
SAL  2014-03-22   10h 40m   12  10  0   0   0   -   1   1
SAL  2014-03-21   08h 58m   7   5   1   0   0   -   1   0
SAL  2014-03-20   10h 30m   15  10  2   0   2   -   1   0
SAL  2014-03-19   10h 46m   6   4   2   0   0   -   0   0
SAL  2014-03-18   10h 48m   8   4   3   0   1   -   0   -
SAL  2014-03-17   10h 50m   6   5   0   0   1   0   0   -
SAL  2014-03-16   10h 52m   21  14  5   0   2   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
GNO - Gamma Normids
EVI - Eta Virginids
XHE - x Herculids
NVI - Northern March Virginids
ZSE - Zeta Serpentids

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 15-21, 2014

The Meteor Activity Outlook for the period 2014 February 15-21 has been posted by Bob Lunsford on the American Meteor Society website.

The Outlook has details on meteors from the Antihelion region and the following showers: Gamma Normids (GNO) and Zeta Serpentids (ZSE).

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 24-30, 2012

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 first quarter phase on Friday March 30th. At that time the moon will be located ninety degrees east of the sun and will set near 0100 local daylight time as seen from the mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waxing crescent moon will only be visible during the early evening hours and will not interfere with meteor observations. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers in the northern hemisphere and four for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seven as seen from mid-northern latitudes and twelve 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.

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 24/25. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 13:08 (197) -07. This position lies in southern Virgo, five degrees northwest of the first magnitude star Spica (Alpha Virginis). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Crater, Corvus, extreme eastern Hydra and northern Centaurus as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near two per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

This weekend is prime time to try and view any activity from the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE). This shower is active on only five mornings with peak activity occurring on the 24th. Rates would likely be less than one shower member per hour, even at maximum activity. The radiant is located near 7:12 (258) -05. The area of the sky is located in a blank portion of central Ophiuchus, some eight degrees northeast of third magnitude Zeta Ophiuchi. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 64km/sec. the Zeta Serpentids would produce mostly swift meteors.

Later in this period, activity from the Zeta Cygnids (ZCY) will begin. This activity is visible from March 27 through April 13 with maximum occurring on April 5. On the 27th the radiant position lies at 19:42 (295) +38. This position lies in western Cygnus, lying directly between the third magnitude stars Delta Cygni and Albireo (Beta Cygni). The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Due to the northern declination of the radiant, this activity is not well seen from the southern hemisphere. No matter your location, rates at this time are expected to be less than one per hour. At 44km/sec. the Zeta Cygnids would produce meteors of average velocity.

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 ten 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.

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

Antihelion (ANT) – 13:08 (197) -07   Velocity 30km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) 17:12 (258) -05  Velocity 64km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

Zeta Cygnids (ZCY)   19:42 (295) +38   Velocity 44km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

 

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 17-23, 2012

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 new phase on Thursday March 22th. At that time the moon will be located near the sun and will not be visible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will not interfere with meteor observations. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers in the northern hemisphere and four for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seven as seen from mid-northern latitudes and thirteen 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.

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 17/18. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 12:40 (190) -05. This position lies in western Virgo, only three degrees south of the famous third magnitude double star Porrima (Gamma Virginis). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Crater, Corvus, and eastern Leo as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near two per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Gamma Normids (GNO) is a weak shower best seen from the southern hemisphere. This shower is only visible south of forty degrees north latitude. The further one is located south (down to 50S) the better the radiant is situated in the sky. Expected rates from the southern hemisphere is currently near one per hour, even with the radiant located high in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 16:56 (254) -51. This position lies in central Norma, three degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Gamma Normae. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

On Thursday morning, March 22, activity from the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) may begin to be noticed. This shower is active on only five mornings with peak activity occurring on the 24th. Rates would likely be less than one shower member per hour, even at maximum activity. The radiant is located near 17:05 (256) -04. The area of the sky is located in a blank portion of central Ophiuchus, some eight degrees northeast of third magnitude Zeta Ophiuchi. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 64km/sec. the Zeta Serpentids would produce mostly swift meteors.

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 ten 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.

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

Antihelion (ANT) – 12:40 (190) -05   Velocity 30km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – 2 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 2 per hour

Gamma Normids (GNO) 16:56 (254) -51   Velocity 56km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – 1 per hour

Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) 17:04 (256) -04   Velocity 64km/sec
Northern Hemisphere – <1 per hr Southern Hemisphere – <1 per hour

 

Rest of March Meteors

March is usually one of the slowest months of the year for meteor watchers. Not only are there no major showers active, but sporadic rates are also low. Of the ~208 meteors detected by my 2 cameras over the 2nd half of March, only 5 were shower members 1 GNO, 1 ZSE and 3 ZCY). The only real excitement was on the night of March 28/29 when at least 3 meteors (and possibly 2 more that were not id’d as such by MetRec) were seen coming from a point near the expected radiant of the weak Zeta Cygnid shower.

Obs  Date(UT)      Time    TOT SPO ANT GNO ZSE ZCY
SAL3 2011-03-31   01h 43m   5   5   0   -   -   0
ALLS 2011-03-31   10h 22m   2   2   0   -   -   0
SAL3 2011-03-30   09h 55m   7   4   3   -   -   0
ALLS 2011-03-30   10h 24m   5   4   0   -   -   0
SAL3 2011-03-29   09h 44m   11  8   2   -   -   1
ALLS 2011-03-29   09h 59m   5   3   0   -   -   2
SAL3 2011-03-28   09h 59m   11  0   0   -   0   0
ALLS 2011-03-28   10h 22m   3   3   0   -   0   0
SAL3 2011-03-27   02h 32m   7   7   0   -   0   -
ALLS 2011-03-27   10h 30m   4   4   0   -   0   -
SAL3 2011-03-26   10h 02m   11  9   2   -   0   -
ALLS 2011-03-26   10h 31m   7   6   0   -   1   -
SAL3 2011-03-25   09h 44m   11  0   0   -   0   -
ALLS 2011-03-25   09h 58m   10  8   2   -   0   -
SAL3 2011-03-24   10h 08m   9   8   1   -   0   -
ALLS 2011-03-24   10h 36m   3   3   0   -   0   -
SAL3 2011-03-23   08h 12m   8   7   1   -   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-23   08h 25m   5   4   1   -   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-22   01h 40m   3   3   0   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-22   00h 00m   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-21   10h 05m   7   6   1   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-21   10h 25m   3   2   1   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-20   01h 59m   5   4   1   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-20   10h 44m   3   2   0   1   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-19   10h 17m   14  14  0   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-19   10h 47m   9   8   1   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-18   10h 20m   6   6   0   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-18   10h 48m   5   5   0   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-17   10h 22m   5   4   1   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-17   10h 50m   0   0   0   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-16   10h 24m   10  8   2   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-16   10h 49m   2   2   0   0   -   -
SAL3 2011-03-15   10h 26m   9   6   3   0   -   -
ALLS 2011-03-15   10h 54m   3   2   1   0   -   -

SAL3 - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
ALLS - Near all-sky camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VIST - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother)
VISH - Visual observations from Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
HERM - PARENI camera in Hermosillo (Salvador Aguirre)
SDG - Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
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
GNO - Gamma Normids 
ZSE - Zeta Serpentids 
ZCY - Zeta Cygnids 

Meteor Activity Outlook for March 27-April 2, 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.

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 continue a slow decline as seen from the mid-northern latitudes and mid-southern rates reach a first half minimum. There is not much to look forward to this month expect for the evening fireballs that seem to peak this time of year from the northern hemisphere. This could be due to the fact the antapex radiant lies highest above the horizon this time of  year during the evening hours.

During this period the moon reaches its full quarter phase on Tuesday March 30.  At this time the moon lies opposite the sun in the sky and rises as the sun sets and sets as the sun rises. This weekend there is a small window of time between moonset and the start of morning twilight when the sky is favorable for meteor watching. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is ~1 for those in the northern hemisphere and ~2 for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be ~5 from the northern hemisphere and ~7 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.

Shower descriptions will be presented next week when the moonlight conditions
have improved.

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
ANT Antihelions          13h 20m  -09    30     1     1
ZSE Zeta Serpentids      17h 32m  -03    64    <1    <1
ZCY Zeta Cygnids         19h 40m  +38    44    <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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