Meteor Activity Outlook for March 3-9, 2012

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Thursday March 8th. At that time the moon will be located opposite the sun in the sky and will be above the horizon the entire night. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours, allowing a few hours of meteor viewing under dark conditions. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two for observers in the northern hemisphere and three for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near six as seen from mid-northern latitudes and fifteen 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 this week are reduced due to bright 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 March 3/4. 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 large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 11:44 (176) +00. This position lies in western Virgo, only two degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Zavijava (Beta Virginis). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Crater, Sextans, Corvus, southwestern Coma Berenicids, and eastern Leo as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0100 local standard time (LST), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near one per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Gamma Normids (GNO) is a weak shower best seen from the southern hemisphere. This shower is only visible south of forty degrees north latitude. The further one is located south (down to 50S) the better the radiant is situated in the sky. Expected rates from the southern hemisphere is currently less than one per hour, even with the radiant located high in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 16:00 (240) -52. This position lies in central Norma, three degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Gamma Normae. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near one per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen per hour as seen from rural observing sites and two per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Evening rates are reduce this week doe to the bright moonlight.

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

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Standard Time North-South
Antihelions (ANT) 11:44 (176) +00 30 01:00 1 – 1 II
Gamma Normids (GNO) Mar 13 16:00 (240) -52 56 05:00 <1 -<1 II

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 →
27 Responses
  1. Nic Davies says: March 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    A friend has just reported what sounds like a small fireball in the southern sky from Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Sighting timed at approx 21:40 GMT. The meteor had a white and red flash appearance with a noticeable tail and lasted around 3 to 4 seconds before disappearing behind a stand of trees. It was travelling at approx 30 degrees (shallow not steep) and from left to right (optically from north to south). No accompanying sound of any sort. Not a firework, flare or plane etc.

  2. Time now is 2200hrs. I live in south Lincolnshire, England and have just witnessed what I assume to be my first meteor sighting. As I opened the side door to my house facing north, myself and my wife saw a brilliant bright white light rising into the sky from behind houses in the distance, travelling at speed. At first I thought it was aircraft light of a jet due to the speed, but as the object moved across the sky moving south, south west, it became higher and the initial bright white light faded revealing a fiery tail much some twenty times longer than the original light. As it moved across the sky before disappearing behind clouds, I noticed that sparks appeared to break off from the tail. It was very similar to a firework but moving horizontally and not vertically and totally silent. Fantastic to see and it seemed so low in the sky as it approached and also seemed to climb as it got further away but by then you were unable to see the bright white light at the front of the object which made it look larger initially. Would not have missed it for the world. Please could someone clarify that this sounds like it was or wasn’t a meteor. Many thanks.

    • This was definitely a fireball which is a larger than normal meteor. It was unusual as it lasted an extraordinary long time for a meteor.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  3. just seen one in wentworth rotherham south yorkshire england was amazing!

  4. Amylee Livingstone says: March 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I seen a meteor I think I did it was tonight 3rd of March at approximately 21.49. At first I thought it was a plane at the side of my eye but then as I watched it it was like a bright light white slight blue colour and it had a large orange flame behind it as it moved it lasted for about 20 seconds then the light dimmed and it disappeared I’m still mesmerised by it. Was it a meteor?

    • Amylee and All,

      This was definitely a fireball which is a larger than normal meteor. It was unusual as it lasted an extraordinary long time for a meteor.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  5. Saw what appeared to be a fireball around 8pm est time on March 5th near Waynesboro, PA. (USA). At first I thought shooting start but it was much bigger and brighter. If it was a fireball that’s the first I’ve seen.

    • Paul B. Schneiders says: March 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      I witnessed the meteor just before 8 p.m. from Elkton, MD. It was travelling westward about 75 degrees above the horizon.The head was burning bright white and blue with an orange tinge within its white trail . I happened to be looking skyward in the right area when I saw it burst in to view and watched for about five spectacular seconds as it went out of sight !

    • Joseph Janosov says: March 19, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      I too saw observed what I believe to be meteor burning rather slowly across the sky at approximately 07:55 PM on
      the evening of 5 March 2012 at Wapwallopen, PA on the Susquehanna River

  6. iv been seeing tiny blips and steeks of light here in dayton, ohio, USA.

  7. Thomas Roberts says: March 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    On Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at 10:38 pm I witnessed a meteor fireball traveling West to East over San Francisco Bay. The trajectory was approximately 120 degrees. The fireball had a magnificent white tail with a predominantly white fireball with tinges of blue and green. My observation point was from the Embarcadero looking North in alignment with Alcatraz. The event lasted only seconds and was breathtaking. I have not heard or seen any other reports of this sighting and thought I should include it here.

    • I saw it as well from Diamond Hts in the city looking south toward San Bruno mountain. It was amazing – especially the way it broke up.

  8. Ummm…. I been hearing that there will be a meteor shower tonight, March 8, 2012… Is it true….. Please tell i would love to see it….. By the way live in U.S.A.

    • Ivette and All,

      I would like to know where you heard this. To my knowledge there is no meteor shower predicted to occur. If there was, the full moon would have spoiled the view anyway.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  9. Anne Barriel says: March 9, 2012 at 5:15 am

    I was traveling Northeast, parallel to the NYS Thruway, I-87 in New Paltz, NY at approximately 6:20 PM EST, when I saw a ball of white, as bright as a sun flare with red after tones fall quickly in front of me, lasting only a few seconds. I saw no trail or tail and could not believe my eyes. I was playing music loudly in the car, therefore I am not certain there was any sound. I am 49 YO and have never seen anything like this, but I did observe Hail Bop and Hailey’s Comet. I would rate the impression it left on me as similar in scope to the before mentioned. It caused me to yell out loudly to myself, since I was the only one in the car.

  10. Hope Barber says: March 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Two running partners and I saw what I am reading is a fireball at 5:20 am this morning, March 9th. I am in South Georgia almost to Florida. Moultrie, GA. I saw a bright light that, at first, I thought was lightening…it was slower though and the head was round and electrical looking. It crackled with fiery sparks and a tail. No sound, though I had on headphones. It was very low. I have seen meteor showers at the beach before and have been amazed by them. This by far surpassed anything I have ever seen. I thought it might have something to do with the solar storm we have been experiencing. I am so glad I found this site. As Anne Barriel commented, It reminded me of a comet…but much closer. What causes these?

    • Hope Barber says: March 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Further description. The head of the fireball was blue-ish white and the tail was fiery orange. It was like something out of a comic book or cartoon.

    • Hope and All,

      A fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they can also occur during the day or on a cloudy night, or over some remote region. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers listed on our website can increase your chance of seeing another bright meteor.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      • I guess I’m lucky than. I saw one over ft.cambel Kentucky in late lit it was over cast at and it lit up the clouds and again I saw one over Florida in the mind 90’s

  11. On March 6 at 4:29 p.m. CST, we heard what has been described as a “sonic boom” in Rockford, Alabama (Coosa County). There were hundreds of reports from an 8 or 9 county area of the same sound of an explosion. Shortly thereafter, several helicopters appeared and seemed to be searching for answers. Could it have been a meteor?

    • Nicole and All,

      It was most likely an aircraft but the possibility exists that it was a meteor. A meteor low enough to produce a sonic boom would have been bright enough to be seen in the daylight sky. Some eye-witnesses could confirm this for us.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  12. Erjona Lamani says: March 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I saw a bright yellow/orange light traveling across the sky. It looked like a fireball. It was around 7:45PM and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It looked like it was the same distance away as a plane but I’m sure it was further away. Eventually the light got smaller and smaller until it burned out. I’m so curious to know what it was. It didn’t seem to be coming closer and closer just kept going across the sky. Someone please tell me if they have any idea what it was or saw it too.

    • Erjona,

      We need a few more details before trying to guess what you witnessed. The most important factor is the duration of your event. If it lasted just a few seconds then odds are it was a fireball. Your location would help us determine if there were any other witnesses nearby. Let us know and we will check it out.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      • Mark Hoffman says: April 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm

        I too saw this event but it was 8:45 my time (EST). I live in Washington, DC and was in the city at the time facing S-SE and when I came from under some trees covering the road I saw a bright ball falling slowly straight down for roughly 4-5 seconds with a tail roughly 6-8 times as long as the fireball is wide. It split into 2 or 3 pieces before falling below my horizon. Included is a copy of the facebook post I immediately put up after witnessing the event.

        Mark Hoffman
        Just saw a meteor fall on my way down Nebraska Ave!
        Like · · Share · March 9 at 8:45pm via BlackBerry

  13. I was traveling East in Virginia at approximately 4:30 this morning and witnessed a VERY large ball of light that started not too far over the treetops and it looked to fall directly behind the treetops at a slight angle. It happened so quickly that the details are blurred, but I know there was a bright white light, a large noticeable tail, and some part of it was red/orange. I’ve never seen anything like it and had the person with me failed to see it, I might have thought I was losing it. Fireball? Just an interesting side fact, I’ve never seen a falling a star and actually saw an unmistakable falling star less than 30 minutes later.

  14. I saw a meteor at around 8:30pm tues.eve.6-19-12. it was traveling from east to west. it was more like a comet. what was it?it appeared to traveling really slow.

    • Steve and All,

      Meteors seen during the evening hours usually are traveling slower than those seen in the morning sky. The reason for this is that during the evening hours meteors have to catch up to the Earth. Therefore you have the meteors initial velocity in space minus that of the Earth which creates slow meteors that often last many seconds. During the morning, just the opposite is true. Your location has now turned toward the same direction that he Earth is moving. Meteors that strike the Earth and now striking the atmosphere head-on. This creates fast meteors that rarely last more than a few seconds. In simple terms, the windshield of a moving vehicle is the like the morning sky and the rear window is like the evening. Raindrops striking the windshield will do so with more more force than those hitting the rear window.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford

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