Meteor Activity Outlook for July 9-15, 2011

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During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Friday July 15th. At this time the moon will lie opposite the sun and will remain in the sky all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set shortly after midnight and will allow most viewers a couple of hours of dark skies before the start of morning twilight. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and three as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near nine from the northern hemisphere and twelve 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. Evening rates are reduced slightly this week due to moonlight.United States

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 9/10. 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 20:00 (300) -19. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Sagittarius, five degrees southwest of the third magnitude star Dabih (Beta Capricorni). 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, or western Capricornus could be a candidate for this shower. Rates at this time should be near one per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and two 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 02:00 (030) +48. This area of the sky lies in northeastern Andromeda, six degrees north 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.

Thanks to studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO’s video data, the July Pegasids (JPE) have returned to the ranks of an active shower. Recent visual observations of these meteors have been scarce to the point of having the shower removed from the IMO’s list. Video data shows a much longer activity period than previously thought, July 7 through the 29th with maximum occurring on the 10th. The radiant position is also further east than previously thought. It is currently located at 23:08 (347) +11. This area of the sky lies in southern Pegasus, six degrees south of the second magnitude star Markab (Alpha Pegasi). 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 68 km/sec., the average July Pegasid meteor would be of swift speed.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately eight 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. Evening rates are reduced slightly due to moonlight.

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

SHOWER DATE OF MAXIMUM ACTIVITY CELESTIAL POSITION ENTRY VELOCITY CULMINATION HOURLY RATE CLASS
RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Daylight Time North-South
Antihelions (ANT) 20:00 (300) -19 30 02:00 1 – 2 II
c-Andromedids (CAN) Jul 12 02:00 (030) +48 59 08:00 <1 – <1 IV
July Pegasids (JPE) Jul 10 23:08 (347) +11 68 06:00 <1 – <1 IV

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2 comments

  • Linda 5 years ago

    I saw the largest meteor or comet cross the sky last night with debris falling from it. It went sort of northeast to southwest or so. Do you know if it was a meteor? It wAs the biggest I’d ever seen.

    linda

    Reply to Linda
    • amsadmin 5 years ago

      Linda,

      You should view our fireball table to see if any of the sightings match yours. Even if you see no matches, it was most likely a fireball, which is a larger than normal meteor. Comets are objects far out in space and show very little motion against the stellar background during the course of the night.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford

      Reply to amsadmin

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