Meteor Activity Outlook for September 15-21, 2012

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Saturday September 15th. At this time the moon is located near the sun and cannot be seen at night. As the week progresses the waxing crescent moon will enter the evening sky but will not interfere with meteor observing as it will set long before the active morning hours arrive. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near five for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and three for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fifteen from the mid-northern hemisphere and eight from the mid-southern hemisphere. 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 September 15/16. 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 center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 00:48 (012) +05. This position lies in southern Pisces, just south of the fourth magnitude star known as Delta Piscium. The radiant is so large that Southern Taurid activity may also appear from eastern Aquarius, north-central Cetus, southeastern Pegasus, southwestern Aries as well as Pisces. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Since the maximum is still several weeks away (October 9), rates at this time are expected to be near one per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) is the strongest shower of the month. Upon further research, the radiant is found to be active until September 28th, when activity stops abruptly. The radiant position is currently located at 03:38 (054) +40. This position lies in central Perseus, four degrees southeast of the famous eclipsing variable star known as Algol (Beta Persei). The radiant is also best placed near 0500 LDT, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates would be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than one per hour as seen south of the equator. This shower experienced an outburst in 2008 with ZHR’s near 25 for a short time. Many bright meteors were produced during this outburst with the brightest estimated at magnitude -8. With an entry velocity of 66 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. This activity is visible from the tropical regions of the southern hemisphere, but further south the radiant becomes too low in the sky to produce much activity.

Surprisingly, one of the more active radiants in the September sky can be associated with the Orionids (ORI). These meteors have all of the characteristics of the October Orionids except for the strong rates. The radiant is currently located at 04:48 (072) +03, which is located in western Orion, four degrees south of Pi 3 Orionis, the brightest star in the “shield” of Orion. Rates would be near one per hour as seen during the last couple hours before dawn, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. These meteors would be equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

Studies of the IMO’s video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has revealed a new radiant active in Lynx this time of year. The September Lyncids (SLY) are active from September 6th through the October 5th with maximum activity occurring on September 27th. The radiant position is currently located at 07:50 (117) +56. This position lies in northeastern Lynx, ten degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Omicron Ursae Majoris. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates are variable for this radiant throughout the activity period. Current rates are expected to be near one shower member per hour as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This radiant is not well placed to be viewed from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 64 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately ten sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near four per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near five 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.

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 Daylight Time North-South
Southern Taurids (STA) Oct 09 00:48 (012) +05 29 02:00 1 – 1 II
September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) Sep 09 03:38 (054) +40 66 05:00 2 – <1 II
Orionids (ORI) Oct 22 04:48 (072) +03 41 06:00 1 – 1 I
September Lyncids (SLY) Sep 27 07:50 (117) +56 41 09:00 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 รขโ€ โ€™
28 Responses
  1. Carole Reiss says: September 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Tonight Sept. 15, 2012 around 9:15 pm I saw a bright light move across and slightly down low in the southern sky. I wonder if it was a meteorite. It had a more horizontal than vertical drop. I have seen shooting stars but this was different. Did anyone else see this?

  2. Tonight I saw a meteor conform the southwest heading for the southeast. It lasted for about 4-5 seconds and was very bright. It was a yellowish gold in color. It started out as one large piece but was low enough and big enough that I could even count most of the larger chunks when it broke apart. I saw this from Middle TN.

  3. Brooke Crabtree says: September 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

    seen a meteorite about 1am eastern time september 21st 2012 so cool!

  4. Just seen a cluster of about 10+meteors from Cheshire, uk travelling horizontally, very bright white, lasted about 15-20secs until faded.. Best thing I’ve ever seen!

  5. Seen the metorite at 23:01 UK time, very bright and clear, travelled from North-North-west. it shattered into pieces as it travelled within 20sc

  6. Jonathan Matear says: September 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I am here in County Antrim Northern Ireland it is around 11.00PM September 21 2012.
    We just had the biggest Meteor Shower I have ever seen in my life the sky seemed to be filled with dozens of them they were travelling North west across our skyline. It was actually kinda frightening but totally awesome.

  7. me and my boyfriend were in the car when i saw a bright light in the sky, as i watched it move across the sky it caught fire, and broke up into pieces, in west yorkshire 21/09/2012

  8. Debbie Gillard says: September 21, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    Saw a meteor tonight at 11. Never have seen one before but it was fantastic. I too have seen shooting stars and this wasn’t them. One large lump of yellow gold with a tail and around 20 smaller falling behind.

  9. just saw large meteor shower approx 6 fragments travel northwest viewed 10 miles south of glasgow ,west of scotland.11.03 p.m. gmt

  10. Ashley Phillips says: September 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Just seen big yellowish lights over the Northern (North Yorkshire) part of England at 11pm. was amazing! 21st sept 2012

  11. Damian Stanley says: September 21, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I also saw a large meteorite at 23:10 BST,Southport England looked amazing with small bits peeling off.

  12. I saw a meteor shower tonight! 21-septemeber-2012 , at about 23:15 , in the southeast! it actually lasted about ten seconds , it was there for a while. I took pictures too!

  13. Siobhan Ryan says: September 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    I saw a meteorite shower tonight around 22.30. There was about 20 individual pieces. I thought it was a firework at first. It seemed to be very near and crossed the sky overhead about 50 feet from the ground?? I could see each flame clearly. Surreal. This is in Midlands Ireland.

  14. UK Meteor seen 21st September around 11pm GMT+0 Time.

    I thought it was a UFO ๐Ÿ˜€

  15. Just seen a meteor shower about 30 minutes ago – absolutely amazing. It had about 10 pieces and appeared to be really low – initially I thought it was chinese lanterns. Very golden large chunks. A real treat!!

  16. Should have said that was about 11:30 pm in Northern Ireland.

  17. Just saw a meteor at about 23:00 GMT+1 21 September 2012 in Dumfries, Scotland, UK. Brightest white fireball with brightest orange sparks trailing I have ever seen. Lasted a full 15 seconds and was heading West over Atlantic!

  18. 21st September in England Lincolnshire Scunthorpe of the hours of 11.00 ish very clear night sky saw a big bright falling object that particles were fall off behind. These particles weren’t falling they were travelling in one direction with the big ball of fire in the glowing trail. It was quiet and slow moving took about half a minute to pass it waS travelling in a straight tilted downwards direction absolutely amazing once in a life time experience I feel so special and lucky to seen it. Reminds you that there is so much more out there.

  19. I saw exacly the same thing as josh davis who commented, at 22.59 in York, UK on 21 September 2012 crazy!

  20. Karis Guymer says: September 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Yeah this was in the UK (Hull, East Yorkshire) about 11pm tonight, loads of comments and videos uploaded accross the UK around the same time. Mainly of the meteor seperated in bits but there’s one beautiful one of it in a full glowing piece, moving at some speed!

  21. I saw a meteor break up into about 8 pieces. Lasted about 10 seconds. West to east. Was the best thing I have EVER seen!

  22. Just saw a green ball of light fall from the sky in the distance. Not too sure what I saw but I am so taken back by it. It was seen at 8:30pm in New York by Poughkeepsie. It lit up the ground when it hit the ground; I could see the ground light up from a distance.

  23. Saw a beautiful meteor in the western sky at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. It first was like a shooting star and then exploded just above the horizon in to yellow and green.

  24. michele landry says: September 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Saw a bright, big, fiery meteor about 8:30 eastern time in the Northern part of NH.

  25. LESLEY PROCTOR says: September 22, 2012 at 12:05 am


  26. I saw a beautiful large bright star descending slowly with a great glowing tail behind it at around 10.57 on 21/09 in Goole, Yorkshire. It was far brighter than the shooting stars that I have seen before and indeed as I turned the corner to my street i caught a glimpe of another, what I would call ‘normal’ shooting star. What an amazing night sky!

  27. Mauna Crabtree says: September 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Just north of Nashville, Tennessee USA Friday 9.21.12 earliest morning just after midnight I saw a streak going west to east low in the southeastern sky. It exploded into a bright white ball, continued moving and the white ball exploded into a bright fluorescent green ball with a coppery colored tail as it dropped towards earth. Very exciting and unexpected! It looked like fireworks!

  28. On Saturday, September 21, 2012 at approximately 8:15 while traveling north on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey slightly north of Montvale, I saw a ball of fire descending rapidly from the sky and landing past the tree area on the opposite side. From our vantage point it looked to be the size of a soccer ball. Had never really seen anything like it before. Initially thought it was a small plane but as it fell, realized it was much smaller. Haven’t seen anything in the newspaper and wondering if it was a meteor.

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