4
Nov
2011

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 5-11, 2011

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Thursday November 10th. At this time the moon will lie opposite of the sun and will be present in the sky all night long. This will be the worse time to try and view meteor activity this month as the brilliant moonlight will obscure all but the brightest meteors. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow a short glimpse of early November meteor activity under dark conditions. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three as seen from the northern hemisphere and two as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fifteen as seen from mid-northern latitudes and ten 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. Evening rates are reduced this week due to moonlight.

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 November 5/6. 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:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:26 (022) +27. This position lies in a sparse area of northeastern Pisces. The nearest bright star is third magnitude Alpha Trianguli, which lies five degrees to the northeast. The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 12. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 (10pm) LST (Local Standard Time), when the radiant lies on the meridian. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are active from a large radiant centered at 03:35 (054) +22. This position lies in western Taurus, three degrees southwest of the famous naked eye cluster known as the Pleiades (seven sisters). The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Since the radiant is large, Northern Taurid meteors may also appear to come from Aries, southern Perseus, as well as western Taurus. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. Expected rates would be near two per hour, no matter your location.

The center of the Southern Taurid (STA) radiant now lies 03:39 (055) +14. This position also lies in western Taurus, but ten degrees south of the Pleiades.  The radiant is also best placed near the meridian at 0100 LST, but activity may be seen all night long. Since the radiant is large, Southern Taurid meteors may also appear to come from Aries as well as Taurus. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. Rates should be near one per hour no matter your location.

The Orionids (ORI) remain weakly active from a radiant located at 07:11 (108) +16. This position lies in southern Gemini, five degrees east of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed near 0400 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift with the brightest meteors producing persistent trains.

The Leonids (LEO) are just now coming to life from a radiant located at 09:48 (147) +25. This position lies in western Leo only one degree north of the third magnitude star Algenubi (Epsilon Leonis). Maximum activity is still more than a week away so current rates would most likely be less than one per hour. At 71km/sec., the average Leonid is swift with a high percentage of trains. These meteors are best seen during the last hour before the onset of morning twilight, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately eleven 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 five per hour as seen from rural observing sites and one per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Evening rates are reduced 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 Standard Time North-South
Andromedids (AND) Nov 12 01:26 (022) +27 19 22:00 <1 – <1 III
Northern Taurids(NTA) Nov 13 03:35 (054) +22 29 01:00 2 – 2 II
Southern Taurids(STA) Oct 10 03:39 (055) +14 29 01:00 1 – 1 II
Orionids (ORI) Oct 22 07:11 (108) +16 67 04:00 1 – 1 I
Leonids (LEO) Nov 18 09:48 (147) +25 71 07:00 <1 – <1 III

About Robert Lunsford

Bob has been interested in the stars as far back as he can recall His first experience with meteors was a biggie, the 1966 Leonid shower. In 1980, a major awaking occurred. He received a sample copy of Meteor News. He was amazed to learn there was a group actually devoted strictly to meteor observing! He joined the group also started to view some of the minor showers list among the pages of Meteor News. Lastly, he was contracted by Springer Publishing in 2007 to write a book on observing meteors. The book is now available and hopefully will be a useful guide to all interested in the enjoyable field of meteor observing. More info about Robert Lunsford →
15 Responses
  1. This morning at 6:45 I was facing the east and watching the sun wash away the night sky when a ball of fire swept slowly across the sky. Was this a Taurid “meteor” ? It was breathtaking to say the least! :)


    • Jennifer, it could have been a Taurid meteor but we would need the direction of flight to more accurately judge this.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  2. Yesterday (11/4/11) I heard on a News program that an asteroid or a meteror the size of an aircraft carrier is heading our way. The commentator stated that this object would actually pass between the earth and our moon,. Any truth to this and isn’t that slightly scary? thx WW


    • Wayne and All,

      The news of an asteroid passing close to the Earth tomorrow night are true. This occurs on occasion and is nothing to worry about. The moon is 225,000 miles distant so you can line up a lot of aircraft carriers in that distance. This particular object passes no closer than 198,000 miles distant and calculations show no further close approaches for the next 100 years. Both amateur and professional astronomers are excited as this object will be visible through telescopes as a faint satellite-like object moving slowly among the stars. Giant radio telescopes will also be pointed at this object, obtaining radar images during this close encounter.

      I this this information helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  3. Karen Izerne says: November 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Am I going to be able to see any of the Taurid from the skies in the State of Connecticut?


    • Karen and All,

      Taurid meteors are visible from anywhere on the Earth except near the South Pole, where the radiant never rises above the horizon. For the next ten nights though you will have trouble seeing any meteors at all due to the bright moon.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  4. We saw a bright white fireball, meteor, falling toward Earth last night on November 4th as we drove East on Hwy 30 near Walkerton, IN. It was located just North of Hwy 30 falling somewhat at an angle from East toward North moving very quickly. My husaband and I both saw it. It was awesome! We’ve both seen falling stars before but this was extremely close to the Earth as we watched it fall.


  5. This evening at about 5:58 p.m. I saw a fireball (possibly a bolide) streak across the sky over Palo Alto, CA. I was driving North on highway 280 and the fireball, relatively low in the sky (much lower than a meteorite), appeared from the south east and traveled across heading north west. ( I filled out a report online, but I’m not certain I completed the direction of travel correctly.) The event lasted perhaps a little more than 2 seconds and less than 5 seconds. This is the 4th fireball/bolide I’ve seen in my lifetime. The first was in 1974 or 75 over Cupertino, CA. It was huge, by far the largest in my experience, and truly looked like a ball of fire. I’m wondering how unusual it is for an individual to observe several fireballs over a span of 4 decades?


    • Catherine and All,

      It is not that unusual to see fireballs if one spends a lot of time outside at night and lives in an area where the skies are often clear.


    • I saw my first fireball last night (9/6/11) at around 6pm . It seemed to travel at about 30 degrees from the east heading west. It landed in my neighbors yard. I could only get maybe as close as 40 feet to it because of a high deer fence. It was sparkling and flickering. I could smell some burning. My sighting was in Sebastopol ca


  6. Aurelie Yetman says: November 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I live in Calgary, AB Canada. Last night in the deep south east of Calgary looking east I saw (a meteor, space junk?) It was coming in from a north angle, hit the atmoshpere, flashed like fire, then was gone.

    I’ve seen shooting stars before, but not one that kind of flashed and then snuffed out.


    • Jon Ellenhorn says: November 14, 2011 at 3:59 am

      I overlook the East river in lower Manhattan, just south of the Brooklyn bridge and have a clear view looking southeast.
      At 3:25 AM I saw a beautiful arching meteor with a visible trail dropping out over what had to be the Atlantic… fantastic!
      This is the third I have seen in 30 years, but all three sitings happened over the the past 3 months…


  7. i saw a fireball on 11/11/2011 at midnight, in singapore. Was this even possible?


    • Rid and All,

      Meteors and fireballs are not like satellites, which can only be seen near dusk and dawn from most parts of the world. They can be seen anytime, even during the day if they are bright enough.

      Robert Lunsford


  8. Depsite the bright moonlight and living close to downtown Minneapolis, I decided to bear the 20 degree weather looking for meteors. I went out at 1230 am 11.17 and saw three bright meteors each lasting about 1-2 seconds within thirty minutes. I was slightly suprised but glad it was worthwhile. Definitely going to try again tomorrow!


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