12
Jul
2012

Meteor Activity Outlook for July 14-20, 2012

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Wednesday the 18th. At this time the moon will be located near the sun and will be invisible at night. This will be the best time of the month to try and view meteor activity as the bright moon will spoil the showers that peak near months end. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the late morning hours and will not hamper observing efforts. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near four no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fourteen no matter your location. 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 July 14/15. 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 radiants are expected to be active this week:

The Alpha Capricornids (CAP) are active from a wide radiant located at 19:56 (297) -14. This position lies in northeastern Sagittarius, seven degrees west of the third magnitude double star Alpha Capricornii. The radiant is best placed near 0100 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Current rates should be less than one per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and near one per hour from the southern. Don’t confuse these meteors with the antihelion meteors, which have a radiant just to the east. Both radiants need to be in your field of view to properly sort these meteors. With an entry velocity of 25 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be slow, a bit slower than the antihelions. This radiant is well seen except for far northern latitudes where it remains twilight all night long and the radiant does not rise as high into their sky.

The large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 20:20 (305) -18. This position lies in western Capricornus, three degrees south of the third magnitude star Dabih (Beta Capricorni). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from southern Aquila, Microscopium, eastern Sagittarius, northwestern Aquarius, western Piscis Austrinus, and Scutum as well as Capricornus. 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 are near their lowest of the year with less than one per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and one per hour as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Sigma Capricornids (SCA) are a new source of activity to look for this time of year. Actually this radiant has been listed before many years ago but had become lost in the many radiants active in this area of the sky this time of year. With over one million meteors available for analysis, the International Meteor Organization’s video section, led by Sirko Molau, has been able to isolate activity from this radiant. The radiant has been found to be active from June 19 through July 24 with maximum activity occurring on June 27. In early July it is still one of the most active radiants in the sky. Unfortunately that is not saying much as the strongest radiant only produces two meteors per hour this time of year. This radiant is now located at 21:12 (318) -03. This area of the sky is actually in western Aquarius, four degrees northwest of the third magnitude star Sadalsuud (Beta Aquarii). This radiant is best positioned for view on the meridian near 0300 LDT. With an entry velocity of 42 km/sec., the average Sigma Capricornid meteor would be of medium speed. Meteors from this source should be easy to distinguish from the slower Antihelion meteors as the two sources are separated by nearly twenty degrees. One must have both radiants within your field of view to properly distinguish between the two sources.

Another radiant returning to the list of active radiants are the July Pegasids (JPE). This source is active with low rates during most of July with maximum activity occurring on the 10th. The radiant is currently located at 23:28 (352) +12. This area of the sky lies in northern Pegasus, five degrees east of the third magnitude star Scheat (Beta Pegasi). This radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at this time should be near one per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 68 km/sec., the average July Pegasid meteor would be of swift speed.

The Perseids (PER) are now active from a radiant located at 00:25 (006) +50. This position lies in southern Cassiopeia, seven degrees southwest of the second magnitude star Shedar (Alpha Cassiopeiae). The radiant is best placed during the last hour before the start of morning twilight when it lies highest in a dark sky. Since the maximum is not until August 12th, current rates would be only one to two per hour at best, as seen from the northern hemisphere. Activity from this source is not visible south of 40 degrees south latitude. With an entry velocity of 61 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Another new source found by the IMO video cameras to be active this time of year is the Phi Piscids (PPS). This radiant has been found to be active from June 14 through July 30 with maximum activity occurring on July 1st. During late June and early July this radiant is often the most active source of meteors in the sky with 1-2 shower members per hour during the early morning hours. The radiant is currently located at 01:30 (023) +31, which is situated on the Pisces/Triangulum border, four degrees northwest of the third magnitude star Ras al Muthallah (Alpha Triangulum). This position also happens to be very close to the large spiral galaxy M33. The radiant rises near midnight LDT but does not reach a sufficient altitude above the horizon until three hours later. Activity would best seen during the last dark hour of the morning when the radiant is located highest in a dark sky. With an entry velocity of 71 km/sec., the average Pi Piscid meteor would be swift.

Studies by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel of the IMO’s video data has revealed an active radiant located in Andromeda this time of year. The c-Andromedids (CAN) are active from July 4-16, with maximum activity occurring on the 12th. The radiant position is currently located at 02:22 (035) +50. This area of the sky lies in extreme northeastern Andromeda, eight degrees north of the famous second magnitude double star Almach (Gamma Andromedae). This radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at this time should be less than one no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 59 km/sec., the average c-Andromedid meteor would be of swift speed.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately nine sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near three per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would also be near nine 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
Alpha Capricornids (CAP) July 29 19:56 (297) -14 25 01:00 <1 – 1 II
Antihelions (ANT) - 20:20 (305) -18 30 02:00 <1 – 1 II
Sigma Capricornids (SCA) June 27 21:12 (318) -03 42 03:00 1 – 1 IV
July Pegasids (JPE) July 10 23:28 (352) +12 68 05:00 1 – 1 IV
Perseids (PER) Aug 12 00:25 (006) +50 61 06:00 2 – 1 I
Phi Piscids (PPS) July 01 01:30 (023) +31 71 07:00 1 – <1 IV
c-Andromedids (CAN) July 12 02:22 (035) +50 59 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 →
16 Responses
  1. Jason Patterson says: July 14, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    On July 14th between 12:00am-1:00am (CMT) we witnessed what looked like a meteorite that was so close and big that it lit up the night sky like daylight. It was so close that you could actually see the flames in its tail from the atmosphere. I was wondering if anyone has captured a picture of this or even a video as it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. please email me more info about it at ice4692day@hotmail.com if possible.


    • Brenda Orlita says: July 22, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      We saw the orange/blue tail on the white light also but didn’t get a picture. We saw it 2 miles north of Brooks. Where did you see it at?


    • Steve North says: July 23, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      My wife seen it @ 12:20 approx. ‘ she was not sure of the direction though (Surrounded by trees) almost a minute later we both heard a very deep thump or soft boom sound. We were freaked out as to what was it? Who do you call or report this to. All the media had voice mail recordings, then our daughter called at 12:34 scared as well, she witnessed it SW of Brooks heading North where we are. She also heard an ” Explosion” about a minute later. So far I have researched the net and this is the only site of any proof of a sighting but NO Impact. Does anyone know if a meteor has a sonic boom or did it actually impact somewhere?


  2. Saw a fireball july 14 in
    the south Moving west to east at a low alt at about
    dark really big


  3. april bates says: July 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I saw a fireball on july 13 2012 at about 2am in the morning.Slowly falling from the sky as I was looking out the patio window from Drayton Valley,Alberta.Spotted the meteorite toward the west sky.


  4. Bob Gollan says: July 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    We were driving on Hwy #3 about 5 minutes south of Medicine Hat AB at 12:30 AM +/- on July 14,2012 (travelling to Manitoba), my wife, my daughter and I were astounded to see an intense light in the sky that was so bright it lit up the area like daylight. The colors were green/blue with white light in an almost florescent intensity. The focal point did not appear to be far away and it was very large. It appeared to drop in an arc but lingered for 5 to 10 seconds (almost like it was falling in the next section of land)…we did not see any indication of that. We have never seen anything like this before – truly a once in a lifetime experience…al I can say is WOW!


  5. A very bright meteor was found on our CloudCam time lapse video at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope by Ben Collier. I made a snapshot available here:
    http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/~veillet/meteor.jpg
    A couple of degrees east of Jupiter, brighter than Jupiter, with a trail of around 3 degrees aligned vertically from zenith to horizon.
    The image (once a minute) has is time stamped at 02:49:04HST on July 17 from Mauna Kea (Hawaii).
    Time lapse video is here: http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/en/gallery/cloudcams/index.php?opts=movies&moviefile=data/movies/Jul17-2012.mp4
    Another faint meteor is seen at 03:18:43HST in the same area.
    Aloha,
    Christian
    Astronomer
    Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope


  6. Cindy Stoperski says: July 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    We were sitting by the fire in Coalhurst, AB on July 14th around 12:30 – 1:00 in the morning, when all of a sudden this hugh light appeared in the sky. It was about the size of a golf ball. It didn’t make any noise but moved from NW to SE direction. It dissapeared behind the trailer. Then the whole sky light up like daylight. It was absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like this. Tried to find something on it in the news, but there was nothing. My Niece seen it in Brooks, AB and said she heard a boom when it hit, and her house shook. Must have been close.


  7. I had just lain down in my tent, camping at Kinbrook Island south of Brooks Alberta when I saw a huge fireball move slowly across the sky. At first I thought it was a flare or fireworks. I quickly realized it was not. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in the sky. It was followed by a loud bang, which I take to have been a sonic boom (and not its impact). I was amazed that it did not make the news, and I was starting to think I was going crazy. Good to hear others saw it, too!


  8. Adrienne D'Agostino says: July 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Last night in Winthrop, MA, USA…. around 9:30pm. Over the Atlantic Ocean I saw a greenish light fall across the sky, somewhat thick and leaving a trail….it disappeared and then reappeared for a split second. I recall seeing some red as well. What could it have been? It was stunning. I am so thankful to have seen it as it was quite a cloudy night!


  9. Melinda holloway says: July 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    In Pasco Washington Camping at hood park saw a huge fireball with a long tail horizontally across sky. Travelled fairly slow and never saw where it went afterwards because of the trees. Spectacular. Approximately 10:30 pm. Wondered if it could have had a correlation to the Alberta sighting but don’t know much about tracking and how fast etc.


  10. Brenda Orlita says: July 22, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    My son and I saw “the light” around 12:30 am on July 14. We were about 2 miles north of Brooks. It was a oval shape of white light narrowing into a blue/orange tail of light…..the brightest light ever for about 20 seconds and then gone….I thought it was right beside us in the field and travelling in an arc the same direction we were going,but from my sons perspective it was about 2 miles away on the horizon……either way once in a lifetime experience and totally amazing.


  11. I’m a soldier in the British Army out in Canada, I was on exercise and on July 14 around 1230 I was sitting out side my tank and looking at the sky as there was nothing to look at when all of a sudden this fireball went across the sky I watched and followed it, it hit the ground approx 20km from where I was.
    I heard other soldiers reporting it over the radio and confirming that we was not live firing in the area.

    Also a week later I managed to get a sighting of the Northern Lights


    • Chris,

      We have about a dozen reports of this fireball in our table. Refer to event #970 for 2012. It sounds like a good time to see some extraordinary astronomical events!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  12. I have been trying to figure out what I saw on July15 (or 14?) just before dawn (4am?430am?). We were out watching the magnificent Earthshine when behind us in the west (went from sw to nw) we saw the most ENORMOUS ball of green/white/blue/yellow light (fireball?) streak across the whole sky filling our entire field pf vision. It left in its path a thick streak of bright light that seemed last many seconds. The trail looked like a wide brushstroke, which slowly dissipated. It was the most amzingly beautiful thing I have ever seen in my whole life. Initially, however, it was actually terrifying as it appeared as though the SUN had fallen from the sky-(YES I KNOW THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!) its just how my brain reacted momentarily because it was so unlike anything I could have ever imagined! I feel so blessed to have been witness to this event. Almost brings tears to my eyes. Crazy, huh. Oh, I was in western wisconsin at the time. Any body see it? I would give anything for VIDEO!


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