2
Nov
2012

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 3-9, 2012

As seen from the northern hemisphere, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the
southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Wednesday November 7th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees west of the sun and well rise near 2300 (11pm) local standard time (LST). This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will interfere with meteor observing the remainder of the night. As the week progresses the moon will rise later and later, becoming less of a nuisance with each passing night. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near four 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 fourteen 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. Rates during the morning hours are reduced this week due to 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 November 3/4. 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:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:24 (021) +23 . This position lies in eastern Pisces, ten degrees west of the second magnitude star Hamal (Alpha Arietis). The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 9, when this source is the 5th most active radiant in the sky. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 LST, when the radiant lies on the meridian and lies highest in the sky. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are now active from a large radiant centered at 03:28 (052) +21. This area of the sky lies on the Aries/Taurus border, five degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Maximum activity is not expected until November 13, so current rates would be 2-3 per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity.  You must face in the general direction of the north and south Taurid radiants in order to tell them apart.

The Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 03:36 (054) +13. This position lies in western Taurus, ten degrees south of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, so rates would now be near one per hour when the radiant lies high in the sky. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) are still the second most active shower this upcoming week producing up to two shower members per hour from a radiant located at 07:04 (106) +16. This area of the sky is located in southern Gemini, five degrees east of the second magnitude star Alhena (Gamma Geminorum). The radiant is best placed for viewing near 0400 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest above the horizon. Orionid meteors are equally well seen either side of the equator. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.

The Leonids (LEO) are actually active in small numbers during the morning hours in early November. The radiant is currently located at 09:36 (144) +28. This position lies in  northwestern Leo,  four degrees northwest of the fourth magnitude star Mu Leonis. Rates are only one per hour at best but will increase as the moon exits the morning sky. The Leonid radiant is best placed during the last hour before morning twilight when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Leonids may be seen from the southern hemisphere but the viewing conditions are not quite as favorable as those north of the equator.

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 three per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near three 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. Rates during the morning hours are reduced this week due to 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 Standard Time North-South
Andromedids (AND) Nov 09 01:24 (021) +23 19 22:00 1 – <1 III
Northern Taurids (NTA) Nov 13 03:28 (052) +21 29 01:00 3 – 2 II
Southern Taurids (STA) Oct 09 03:36 (054) +13 29 01:00 1 – 1 II
Orionids (ORI) Oct 22 07:04 (106) +16 67 04:00 2 – 2 I
Leonids (LEO) Nov 18 09:36 (144) +28 71 06:00 <1 – <1 III

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 →
18 Responses
  1. At 5:oo pm on 11/4/2012 My Daughter Michelle spotted what she called a meteor or maybe a fireball. She said she reported it on this site. My Daughter is the most down to earth person at the age of 32 and she has made the Presidents List at collage twice in the past two years. She was excited to have seen it. Said it was bright even if it was still daylight. Time changed that morning by one hour, after she had seen it. Grand Daughter seen it also. Her first. What was it?
    Dale 205-520-7145


  2. Dale,

    What Michelle reported was most likely a fireball. A fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors. I hope this helps!

    Robert Lunsford
    American Meteor Society


  3. Any news/updates of what might have been a meteor over Southern Florida (Coconut Creek and Boca Raton area) yesterday (11/5)? Seems that it potentially hit earth, but nothing confirmed that I can find, just speculation…

    Here are the pictures of something falling from the sky:
    http://i.imgur.com/i7Wju.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/SXAgV.jpg
    [zoomed in] http://i.imgur.com/tKEKY.jpg

    And a picture of what someone suggested may be the landing location: http://i.imgur.com/KDbyr.jpg


  4. suzette licht says: November 8, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Tonight, in Westfield, NY, at 730pm, I think I saw what was my 1st ever fireball. Was looking straight up at the sky to the East, and out of the blue here was this fantastic fireball, with a long & very bright redish-orange tail. It travled East to northwest then was gone. Had a wonderful view for at least 4 1/2 secs. This did not look like any metor Ive ever observed. Did I really see a fireball and are they really that rare to see?


    • Suzette, this sounds like a fireball to me. If this was your first first fireball, then they must be rare to see! Actually, even those who watch the skies for hours on end, a meteor as bright as the moon only occurs once every several hundred hours of viewing so yes, the brighter fireballs are indeed rare.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  5. Monica San Jose says: November 8, 2012 at 10:34 am

    We are living in Manila, Philippines. What time will be best for viewing the Leonids shower around Nov 17-18?
    Thank you for your help,
    Monica


    • Monica, the Leonids are currently a fairly weak shower, producing only 10-15 meteors per hour at maximum. You would be better off waiting until the Geminids peak on December 13/14 to see a good display of meteors. they are active all night long on that date.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  6. Around 4:40-50pm when leaving king of prussia in philly, I saw 3-4 bright comet like things in the sky.. I saw a shooting star before but it was fast.. these were bright slow.. what were they..


    • These do not sound like meteors. Meteors are usually singular unless a large fireball has fragmented. Meteors also usually last a fraction of a second, up to several seconds for a fireball. Your event sounds as if they lasted a while longer.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


    • I believe I saw this too. I was coming home from work yesterday, November 9, 2012 around 5:15 driving down Rt. 1 through Broomall to get on 476 South (Right outside Philly). At first I just saw a 1 here and there. Little streaks of light in the sky moving very very slow, kinda with a pinkish glow. Then eventually as I approached 476, I counted 6 total that I could see in the sky at once. It was very weird. Not sure what it was but I’ve never seen anything like it before.


  7. Yes it did, thank you very much for your response!!


  8. Today I saw, what I thought was a fireball. I was just coming out of a store and it was like around 4 or 5 pm.
    It was yellowish with reddish trail, however very short. It lasted more than 10 seconds. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a plane
    because they are grayish, but unlike this one it was very bright which caught my attention.


  9. I was driving down the street and right before me and my boyfriend’s eyes we saw what appeared to be a shooting star! It was small and fast!! To experience that was and still is amazing!


  10. u met me: I also saw these in the sky. I was on the train coming home from work at the same time. At first I thought they were planes reflecting the sun. Then they appeared to very slowly dive in the skyline. There were about 4-5 that I saw. Very bright and slow moving. Would love to know what it was.


  11. Huge explosion near Indianapolis last night. Plane crash ruled out. Gas line explosion being explored. What about a meteor?


  12. Hi there . I live in manila, philippines. Ive search the internet regarding the peak times and dates of the leonids…and it all says Nov 16 (evening) to Nov 17 (dawn)..are those US TIMES?…Because here in the Philippines, news reports say it will be Nov. 17 (evening) to Nov. 18 (dawn)..Im confused..pls help…

    Thanks…Junie


    • Junie,

      In the Philippines, the Leonids will be best seen on the mornings of both November 17th and the 18th. The reason for this is that the exact time of maximum activity is predicted to be at sunset on the 17th in the Philippines. Since the Leonids are only visible between midnight and dawn, rates will be similar on both mornings. Do not expect too much activity from the Leonids as the Leonid storms of the early 2000′s are now over. One would be lucky to see 10 shower members per hour. A much better display will occur on the night of December 13/14, when the strong Geminid meteor shower reaches maximum activity.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


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