16
Jun
2012

Meteor Activity Outlook for June 16-22, 2012

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Tuesday the 19th. At this time the moon will be located near the sun and will not be visible at night. This weekend the slender crescent moon will rise just prior to dawn, not causing any problems to meteor observers. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers in the northern hemisphere and four for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eight as seen from mid-northern latitudes and thirteen 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.

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 June 16/17. 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 18:32 (278) -23. This position lies in central Sagittarius, two degrees north of the third magnitude star Kaus Borealis (Lambda Sagittarii). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from eastern Scorpius, southeastern Ophiuchus, Serpens Cauda, Corona Australis, and Scutum as well as Sagittarius. This radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near one per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and two as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

Studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO’s video data has revealed an active radiant located in Pisces this time of year. The Delta Piscids (DPI) are only active from June 20th through the 24th with maximum activity occurring on the 23th. The radiant position at maximum is located at 00:44 (011) +06. This area of the sky lies in south-central Pisces, just southwest of the fourth magnitude star Delta Piscium. This radiant is best placed just before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Rates, even at maximum activity,  should be less than one per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 71 km/sec., the average delta Piscid meteor would be swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately seven 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 eleven per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

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 Daylight Time North-South
Antihelions (ANT) - 18:32 (278) -23 30 02:00 1 – 2 II
Delta Piscids (DPI) June 23 00:44 (011) +06 71 08:00 <1 – <1 IV

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 →

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