Meteor Activity Outlook for August 4-10, 2012

Meteor activity kicks into high gear in August as seen from the northern hemisphere. The main reason for all this activity is the Perseid shower that peaks on August 12. This shower is active most of the month and remains above the level of the sporadic background for a week centered on August 12. The sporadic activity is also near maximum as seen from the northern hemisphere and is now more than double the rates from just three months ago. As seen from south of the equator, meteor rates are still decent but falling rapidly. The sporadic rates continue their downward slide and the Perseid radiant does not rise high into the sky as seen in the southern hemisphere so rates from this shower are greatly reduced when compared to the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Thursday August 9th. This weekend the bright waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will effectively ruin the sky for meteor watching the remainder of the night. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near four for observers located in the northern hemisphere and two for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fifteen for those located in the mid-northern hemisphere (45 N) and ten for those viewing from the mid-southern hemisphere (45 S). Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. These rates assume that you are watching from rural areas away from all sources of light pollution. 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. Morning rates are reduced during this period due to the intense 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 August 4/5. 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 list below presents a summary of the expected activity this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning August 4/5, but may be used all week.
The full descriptions of each radiant will continue next week when the moon becomes less of a nuisance to observers.

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Daylight Time North-South
Kappa Cygnids (KCG) Aug 18 18:06 (274) +46 23 22:00 <1 – <1 II
Alpha Capricornids (CAP) July 29 20:36 (309) -09 25 01:00 1 – 1 II
Antihelions (ANT) - 21:40 (325) -12 30 02:00 <1 – 1 II
Delta Aquariids (SDA) July 29 22:42 (346) -14 42 03:00 2 – 3 I
Piscids Austrinids (PAU) July 28 23:12 (348) -27 35 03:00 <1 – 1 II
Perseids (PER) Aug 12 02:28 (037) +56 61 06:00 6 – 3 I
Alpha Triangulids (ATR) July 27 02:40 (040) +37 67 06:00 <1 – <1 IV
Eta Eridanids (ERI) Aug 09 02:52 (043) -13 64 06:00 <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 →
10 Responses
  1. Have not seen any other reports, but can’t believe no one else saw or reported what I observed. Date is early am (1:45am approx) Aug 4, 2012. Ball of light in color of flame (mostly orange) and no sound. Moving SSW to NNE at about 10:00 facing south and moved in a straight line, observed from Toms River, NJ. No perspective of how high or how fast, but appeared to move at the speed and altitude of a fast moving helicopter, but could have been much higher and much faster. I could only liken it to a space launch or rocket, but oddly no tail or trail behind the object. Have been looking for any reports, but nothing. Any feedback is welcome, but if not, maybe you can match with any other reports. Thanks, Hal Egeland

    • We saw the same thing in Kansas City just an hour ago. It lasted for about a minute before it disappeared. It was from SSE to NW. No sound and no other lights. It just looked like an orange ball of fire. It went higher up and then we couldn’t see it anymore. It was big enough to get it on video on a phone.

      • Thanks S. Ann,
        Please see response to Karla below. I’m not a stargazer or expert, but it was certainly unusual. I’m glad I am not the only person who saw such an unusual event.

    • Hal….I saw the same thing in Scottsdale, AZ. Have not seen any posts or articles except yours. Very strange.

    • Thanks…I was beginning to feel like I imagined what I observed.
      I have never seen anything like this before and even after it passed by it looked the same, although the light was brighter as it approached and a bit dimmer as it passed, it was not that much dimmer. I appreciate the feedback.

  2. Saw a large meteor last night (around 10:30 PM CDT). It was a large chunk low flying with large tail streak northeast to southwest, lost sight of it beyond my garage. Very large, assuming it was a persied based meteor. Never saw one so low I could see the chunk of debris burning. Will have to sit outside this next week to see what else shows up.
    Madison, WI

    • Sarah – I saw the same thing. Big Bear Lake, CA. Awesome! It seemed rather slow moving to me, and it seemed to be fragmenting as it burned up across the sky. It vanished before it hit the horizon. Space junk re-entry? Nice display!

  3. Saw a large meteor at 4th of August around 21:00 to 22:30 (was too impressed by it to check the time).
    In Nuremberg at an open air festival, so I definitly wasn’t the only one who saw it. It looked like a chock or something. It was in air for some seconds – there was some fire behind it. It was really huge, first I thought there woud be a flying paper or something some meters away from be, but it had a straight flight path and was way to fast for this. But there was enough time to realize this chock like shape (a thin chock – maybe 15 degrees with the peak in direction of its flight path) and yellow flame behind it. Without getting smaller it disappeared within miliseconds.
    The huge, burning spearhead (yes, this is the best description) was really impressive.
    Florian from Germany

  4. On 08/06/12 at about 9:30 pm in Provo, UT. as I was at the top of our hike we turned west to see our city bellow but something else caught my attention. I saw the same ball (mentioned above) of mostly orange light traveling northwest to southwest. First I just saw the ball as it slowly moved the long tail came in sight and before we knew it was gone. How I wish I would’ve taken a video of it but I was just in awe and forgot that I was holding my camera in my hand. It was awesome!

  5. On August 7th, 2012 i was facing due East in Bremerton, Washington when i saw something fall out of the sky between 11:30pm and 12am.
    It appeared to be a ball surrounded by fire (about the size of a street lamp from two blocks away) with a long tail.
    It fell from the Southeast toward the Northwest. i was walking up a hill i didn’t see where it landed but i know it must have hit somewhere on or just off the East coast of the peninsula somewhere near Bremerton. i watched it pass through a cloud as it decended. i stood still for about five minutes expecting to hear an impact.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>