21
Sep
2012

Meteor Activity Outlook for September 22-28, 2012

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Saturday September 22th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees east of the sun and will set near 2300 (11pm) LDT Local Daylight Time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. As the week progresses the waxing gibbous moon will enter remain above the horizon during the early morning hours, causing some interference during the more active morning hours. The situation will worsen which each passing night until at the end of the period, the nearly full moon will remain in the sky nearly all night long. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and two for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seventeen from the mid-northern hemisphere and nine 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. Rates during the evening hours are reduced due to interfering 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 September 22/23. 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 01:12 (018) +06. This position lies in southeastern Pisces, close to the faint star known as Zeta 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 two 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 04:12 (063) +41. This position lies in eastern Perseus, two degrees northeast of the third magnitude star known as Epsilon 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 (078) +09, which is located in northwestern Orion, three degrees northwest of Bellatrix (Gamma Orionis). 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 radiant active in Auriga this time of year. The Beta Aurigids (BAU) are active from September 20-26, with maximum activity occurring on the 23rd. The radiant position is currently located at 05:50 (088) +49. This position lies in northern Auriga, four degrees northwest of second magnitude Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae). At maximum activity rates would be near one shower member per hour as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Rates south of the equator would be less than one due to the poor radiant elevation seen in the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 70 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 07:04 (106) +48. This position lies in a remote area of western Lynx. The nearest bright star is Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae), which lies 15 degrees to the southwest. 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 two 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 one per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Rates during the evening hours are reduced due to interfering moonlight.

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
Southern Taurids (STA) Oct 09 01:12 (018) +06 29 02:00 2 – 2 II
September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) Sep 09 04:12 (063) +41 66 05:00 2 – <1 II
Orionids (ORI) Oct 22 04:48 (078) +09 67 06:00 1 – 1 I
Beta Aurigids (BAU) Sep 23 05:50 (088) +49 70 07:00 1 – <1 IV
September Lyncids (SLY) Sep 27 07:04 (106) +48 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 →
13 Responses
  1. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=418829598180450

    Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, UK. 21st Sept 2012.


  2. we were at a parking place on military road above Helensburgh and a meteor passed through the sky in clear view of my wife, son daughter-in-law & myself a bright white light with fiery trails behind then burst into about 20 fiery balls of flames and eventually burnt out we reckon it was travelling from east to west, it was a phenominal sight to see & lasted around 15 seconds.


  3. I was driving towards town when i noticed a bright light moving slowly
    Across the sky i wound my window down when i realised it wasnt a
    Plane.I pulled over to see it break up like a load of bright sparks
    It was an awesome sight one i wont forget for a while!


  4. cynthia sweet says: September 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Overlook lane Westmore, VT, a torchlike fire trailed towards the ground near our log cabin then about 25 ft from the ground it went out. An awesome sight!


  5. cynthia sweet says: September 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    That was Friday Sept 21 around 9:20 pm


  6. Last night (Sept 24,2012), in my driveway to look up and see a fireball w/trail behind it, just disintegrate about me. It was moving very fast and was an orange, yellow color. Awesome sight and one I will remember for a while!! It was just burning up right in front of us and totally vanished. Very cool.


  7. On the 23 rd, evening we saw a big light going across the sky. Going from SE to NW but downward. It was very interesting. We live near cobourg Ontario.


  8. Myself and my daughter just caught sight of what looked like a meteor.a bright white light travelling in the sky about Cheltenham,uk. This was about 4.30pm this afternoon. Justo wondered if anyone else saw it,seemed quite unusual to see it at that time of day if it was a meteor? Would be interested to find out what it was. Unfortunately,we only caught a second or two of it and was definately not a plane.


    • Samantha and All,

      Fireballs can be seen at any time of the day or night. Of course those seen during daylight have to be exceedingly bright in order to be noticed while the sun is out.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  9. My husband and I were driving through Medway, MA at around 7:25 PM when a huge bright white star burst out of the sky and arced down to the horizon. It was not yet a totally dark sky, and there were very few very regular stars to be seen. It looked so close to us, and it was so big and bright that we both gasped in amazement. Thank goodness someone else reported a sighting at the same time.

    It was magical and astonishing, actually!


    • I actually think I seen the same thing that Susan did. We were traveling home from vacation and were in Kentucky when I seen it….and it was not quite dark out yet. It was huge, white, and lasted MUCH longer than the typical “falling star”. Then a few hours later, we seen a HUGE burst that started like a shooting star then exploded and left a small trail…it was awesome and scary at the same time! Interesting what goes on in space!


  10. Rte 27 near the Medfield/Sherborn line. Sorry.


  11. I just seen Susan’s post was a year ago, was there something extraordinary that went on Friday night? The 27th? This is when we observed ours……the huge burst was crazy, trying to find out what it was.


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