5
Jan
2012

Meteor Activity Outlook for January 7-13, 2012

During this period the moon reaches it full phase on Monday January 9th. At this time the moon will be located opposite the sun and will be above the horizon the entire night. This is the worst time to try and view meteor activity as the glare from the bright moon will obscure all but the brightest meteors. As the week progresses a small window of dark skies is available between the end of evening twilight and moonrise. Unfortunately this is the worst time of night to try and view meteor activity as rates will only be a couple of meteors per hour. Conditions improve next week as the moon passes its last quarter phase. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near one no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near five as seen from mid-northern latitudes and three 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. Rates this week are reduced 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 January 7/8. 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 continue next week when observing conditions improve.

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) - 08:00 (120) +19 30 01:00 1 – <1 II
Alpha Hydrids (AHY) Jan 01 08:40 (130) -09 45 02:00 <1 – <1 IV
December Leonis Minorids (DLM) Dec 20 11:52 (178) +22 64 05:00 <1 – <1 II
Quadrantids (QUA) Jan 04 15:28 (232) +49 42 09:00 <1 – <1 I

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 →
5 Responses
  1. Kristen Kriwox says: January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    could it have been a meteor on Jan. 15th I saw??
    I live in Elba, NY. When outside right around 9pm Eastern, looking in the sky I saw what looked similar to an airplane light…except it was not white or yellow…it was red and orange. It was moving however, so it got my attention (couldn’t have been just a planet.) It was moving North to South and then seemed to shift to West to East. I watched it for about 30-40 seconds. A plane was moving East to West and I was excited because I thought they would see whatever this was, and just then the red/orange light vanished. I moved my position, as I couldn’t believe this thing disappeared…and then I saw a quick, pretty faint ‘shooting star’ that went from East to West. Could this have been a meteorite entering our atmosphere? did anyone else see it? Thank you!


    • Kristen,

      This object lasted much too long to be a meteor. Due to the velocity at which these objects enter the atmosphere, these objects rarely last longer than 10 seconds. It could not have been a satellite as these objects do not shift directions as you indicated. Chinese lanterns have become more popular in the USA and your description matches a floating lantern more than anything else.


  2. Rob Kingsbury says: January 19, 2012 at 12:43 am

    At approx 3am last night I was heading to a fire call (im a fireman) and as I was driving west I saw a bright light shoot from the sky down to maybe a 1000 feet off the ground. This was somewhat bright and flashed a larger green color at the last millisecond. It was super quick and I was the only one who noticed it but I was wondering if it could have been a meteorite.


    • Rob, sounds like you witnessed a fireball, which is a larger than normal meteor. The appearance of these objects being close to the ground is an optical illusion as these objects lose the ability to produce light while still several miles up in the atmosphere. It is the tremendous velocity at which they strike the atmosphere that allows these objects to appear so brightly while still so far away. Check our fireball table to see if any other reports of your object show up.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  3. julianne_xo@hotmail.com says: January 21, 2012 at 8:35 am

    JAN/21/2011 – BRITISH COLUMBIA – ABOUT 3:30-3:40am

    I happend to look out the window & i noticed this bright round/teardrop shaped fire in mid air it was above the mountains, it had abit of smoke trailing above it, hardly noticeable ` i looked at it for a couple mins than ran to the other room to tell my boyfriend… it was still in the same spot, we watched it cause it looked pretty glowing over the mountains & trees we decided to try take a picture but than it just dissappeared.. i couldnt even see the trees or mountains anymore? Their was no stars out & no moon.


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