Meteor Activity Outlook for December 10-16, 2011

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During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Saturday December 10th. At this time the moon will lie above the horizon the entire night and will severely impact meteor observing by obscuring all but the brightest meteors. As this week progresses the moon’s phase will wane and it will rise approximately forty-five minutes later each night. Toward the end of the week there will be a small window of opportunity to view evening activity under dark skies between the end of dusk and moon rise. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and one as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eight as seen from mid-northern latitudes and five 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. All rates are reduced due to intense 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 December 10/11 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 table below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Detailed descriptions of each shower will be continued next week when lunar interference will be less severe.

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
Antihelions (ANT) 06:04 (091) +23 30 00:00 1 – 1 II
Monocerotids (MON) Dec 08 06:45 (101) +08 41 01:00 <1 – <1 II
Geminids (GEM) Dec 14 07:22 (110) +33 35 02:00 3 – 2 I
Puppid-Velids (PUP) Dec 07 08:22 (125) -45 40 03:00 <1 – 1 II
Sigma Hydrids (HYD) Dec 06 08:32 (128) +02 61 03:00 <1 – <1 II
December Leonis Minorids (DLM) Dec 20 10:15 (154) +34 64 05:00 <1 – <1 II
Psi Ursa Majorids (PSU) Dec 05 11:49 (177) +41 61 06:00 <1 – <1 IV
December Alpha Draconids (DAD) Dec 05 13:54 (208) +58 44 08:00 <1 – <1 IV

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3 comments

  • Jessica 5 years ago

    Robert Lunsford,
    It was late (11:50pm almost exactly Edmonton, Alberta, Canada local time) when I saw what appeared to be a meteor. From what i can remember it was quite large, but in all honesty I was so tired at the time that I am starting to doubt that I saw it in the first place. I have been looking around the internet and I cannot find any meteor sightings for Dec. 10th 2011 in the Edmonton area. Your post concerning meteor activity for this week has been very helpful and I would be appreciative if you took the time to let me know how plausible a meteor sighting at this time would be.

    Reply to Jessica
    • amsadmin 5 years ago

      Jessica and All,

      It is very possible you witnessed a bright meteor. I would not worry about the fact that no one else reported it as it is common for there to be only one witness, especially in the cold temperatures of Alberta!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Natalie 5 years ago

    I saw what looked like the broken pieces of a larger meteor on Saturday night (12/17) in Massachusetts. From 5:20-5:22 (estimated). It looked like tracer fire. Red lights in three seperate clumps about 3-5 in each clump coming out of the west and heading in a NNE direction. They faded out one by one before I thought to get a picture. Do you know what this could have been?

    Reply to Natalie

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