Meteor Activity Outlook for July 2-8, 2011

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Meteor season finally gets going in July for the northern hemisphere. The first half of the month will be much like June. After the 15th though, both sporadic and shower rates increase significantly. For observers in the southern hemisphere, sporadic rates will be falling but the overall activity will increase with the arrival of the Delta Aquariids.

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Friday July 8th. At this time the moon will lie ninety degrees east the sun and will set near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) for observers located n the mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set shortly after the end of evening twilight and will not cause problems observing meteors. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three as seen from the northern hemisphere and four as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near nine from the northern hemisphere and thirteen as seen from south of the equator. 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 July 2/3. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky. A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year. Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies at the edge and not the center. Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic. Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

The wide Antihelion (ANT) radiant is now centered at 19:36 (294) -20. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Sagittarius, seven degrees east of the fourth magnitude star Pi Sagittarii. 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 Sagittarius, Scutum, southern Aquila, western Capricornus, or Serpens Cauda could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and three 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.

Studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO’s video data has revealed an active radiant located in Andromeda this time of year. The c-Andromedids (CAN) are active from July 4-16, with maximum activity occurring on the 12th. The radiant position is currently located at 01:32 (023) +45. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Andromeda, eight degrees northwest of the famous second magnitude double star Almach (Gamma Andromedae). This radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at this time should be less than one no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 59 km/sec., the average c-Andromedid meteor would be of swift speed.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately seven 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 table below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Daylight Time North-South
Antihelions (ANT) 19:36 (294) -20 30 02:00 2 – 3 II
c-Andromedids (CAN) Jul 12 01:32 (023) +45 59 08:00 <1 – <1 IV


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