Meteor Activity Outlook for March 10-16, 2012

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During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Thursday March 15th. At that time the moon will be located ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near 0200 local daylight time (LDT) for observers located in the mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will severely hamper meteor observations as the moon will be above the horizon most of the night. Only an hour or two after dusk will be free of interfering moonlight. Unfortunately meteor rates are lowest at this time but you might get lucky and see a fireball as now through April are good times to try and see early evening fireball activity. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near one for observers in the northern hemisphere and two for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near three as seen from mid-northern latitudes and six 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 are reduced this week due to the intense moonlight present most of the night.

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 March 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 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 Daylight Time North-South
Antihelions (ANT) 12:12 (183) -02 30 02:00 1 – 1 II
Gamma Normids (GNO) Mar 13 16:28 (247) -51 56 06:00 <1 -<1 II

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3 comments

  • Briar Auman 5 years ago

    I saw a large meteor/fireball over Cuba, NY tonight 3/16/12 at about 8:30. It was pretty low.

    Reply to Briar
  • joshua farmier 5 years ago

    i live in west bend wisconsin. i seen something tonight that was really strange. it was traveling south to north. a bright firey orange object going really fast. it had no tail, and no sound. it looked like a plane that was on fire. dont know how long it lasted, once it got over my house i lost eyesight. but what i say was a good 15-20 seconds worth. i put up a facebook status and it seems my wife and i were the only ones that saw it. i dont know if you can confirm a fireball in this area, but it was kind of freaky in a way. so i would like to know for sure what it was.

    Reply to joshua
    • Gideon 5 years ago

      Can you believe we saw it first in South Africa and it was falling out of the atmos and did have a very long tail and was moving faster than a jet. I did take some pics of it.

      Reply to Gideon

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