31
Jan
2013

Meteor Activity Outlook for February 2-8, 2013

Radiants at 7pm

Radiants at Midnight

Radiants at 5am


February offers the meteor observer in the northern hemisphere a couple of weak showers plus falling sporadic rates. This may not seem too exiting but you never know when surprises are in store. An errant earthgrazer from the Centaurid complex may shoot northward. Better yet, a bright fireball may light up the sky. February is the start of the fireball season, when an abundance of fireballs seem to occur. This lasts well into April and seems to occur mostly during the early evening hours.

Observers in the southern hemisphere are treated to the Alpha Centaurid peak on the 8th plus the entire Centaurid complex of radiants is active all month long. Sporadic rates also peak this month south of the equator this month adding to the celestial show.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Sunday February 3rd. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees west of the sun. The half illuminated moon will rise near midnight local standard time and will remain in the sky the remainder of the night. While producing much less light than a full moon, the last quarter moon will still hamper meteor observations during the morning hours. If your skies are transparent meteor observers can simply face the opposite direction of the moon and still carry on successful observations. As the week progresses the moon will less of a problem as the phase wanes and it rises later in the morning with each passing night. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near three no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seven from the mid-northern hemisphere and ten 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. Morning rates are reduced 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 February 2/3. 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 showers are expected to be active this week:

The large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently centered at 09:48 (147) +11. This position lies in western Leo, four degrees west of the first magnitude star Regulus (Alpha Leonis). These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0100 LST when it lies on the meridian and is highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near two per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and one per hour from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Alpha Centaurids (ACE) are now active from a radiant located at 13:36 (204) -58. This position lies in southeastern Centaurus, five degrees northwest of the first magnitude star Hadar (Beta Centauri). These meteors cannot be seen north of the northern tropical regions. They are best seen from mid-southern latitudes where the radiant lies high in the sky near 0500 local summer time. As seen from the southern hemisphere rates will be rising this week and will peak on February 8th, when they should be near five per hour during the morning hours. At 56km/sec. the Alpha Centaurids would produce mostly swift meteors.

IMO Shower #22 is a weak unnamed shower active from January 29 through February 9. Peak activity occurs on February 8th from a radiant located at 13:42 (206) +09. This position is located in extreme southwestern Bootes, ten degrees southwest of the zero magnitude star Arcturus (Alpha Bootis). These meteors are best seen near 0400 LST, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates would mostly likely be less than one shower member per hour, no matter your location.  At 65 km/sec. IMO Shower #22 would produce mostly swift meteors. It is possible that these meteors are a continuation of the Coma Berenicids which were active In December and January.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately five 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 seven 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. Morning rates 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
Anthelions (ANT) - 09:48 (147) +11 30 01:00 2 – 1 II
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Feb 08 13:36 (204) -58 56 04:00 <1 – 2 II
IMO #22 Feb 08 13:42 (206) +09 65 04:00 <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. Matt Hickman says: February 2, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I live in Centerville, Arkansas and just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I saw a bright green meteor; It was awesome. It covered almost half the sky and wasn’t traveling very fast. This was approximately 7:00 pm CST. I was looking towards the southeast.


    • Thank you Matt! I was thinking I was crazy as I couldn’t find anyone else who saw it. I saw it about 6:55 CST in Jackson, TN. I couldn’t believe how long it lasted. If I hadn’t been driving down the road, I would’ve had time to record it on my phone.


  2. Corey Reynolds says: February 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Cocoa Fl, Feb 2, 2013 at 2122 hrs EST, I was called by a friend in Melbourne Fl who wanted me to look South to North for a slow moving “fireball” that was not like any satellite or ISS. He stated seeing three of these approx. 3-4 minutes apart. I went outside, cool clear and no moon yet, and looked for the object while he was still on the cellphone with me. He stated this was the third single object in under 15 minutes time and traveled 3/4 of the sky slightly faster than a common satellite South to North. The color orange/red and the intensity was of significance to him. He is a life-long Space Coast resident.
    At approx. 2127 hrs EST I looked all around and did not see the “fading object” that was said to be above the Northern horizon now. A minute later I did observe three “fireballs” rising from the South-Southwest at 45′ (over the neighbor’s house) one of the three “fireballs” appeared to be slightly off trajectory from the other two and it crossed paths. All were orange balls very similar to an Atlas V rocket launch seen here regularly. Not aircraft, not satellites, and not marine flares. Air time was at least one minute before pulsing and eventual burnout occurred although objects were still faintly visible after the intensity faded. Magnitude was significantly brighter than Venus on a good night. Orange in color, not white. No sound or obvious contrails. Best guess is a multiple rocket launch of some sort.


  3. Karl Wilson says: February 3, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Saw something around 5 or 6 pm today, 3 Feb 2013 over Burke, VA. Looked like plane with short contrail but trail passed with object, more or less constant length. Trajectory was not like normal planes. Could not identify a plane. Meteor?


  4. 11.30pm 4 feb. castle hill. Australia. Large bright green fireball falling from night sky


  5. I live in Castle Hill Sydney Australia and I just saw a large green light fall downwards from the sky, it looked as though it went into trees. It was at 11.30pm. Goose bumps all over my body
    , I have no IAEA what it was… Any explanations would be great? Did anyone else see this? I was not just seeing things, my friend saw it also, she was sitting next to me


  6. Last night, at home in Indian Harbour Beach/ Satelittle Beach, FL on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 3) at approx 10:45pm I observed a orange-red fireball streak across the northern sky. I tend to look up at the night sky more then some and have witnessed many “shooting stars” and on one occasion a greenish fireball streak across the southern sky while driving south on highway A1A. But, this was the first time I was fortunate enough to view a fireball/meteor while standing outside with a nice panoramic view of the northern sky. The orange-red fireball took a descending path from west to east across the sky, before falling below the horizon (which was the ocean from my perspective… Facing north with the Atlantic Ocean 500 meters to my right (east). The meteor did not light up much of the surrounding sky in my area… Possibly some people further north caught an even better show?


  7. i seen a redish orange obeject about an hour ago falling from the sky it was moving fast but slow xant explain i kep looking at it wondering what it was…? over montreal quebec in canada..anyone see it and was it a meteor?


  8. I live in Naples, FL, my family and I just saw what looked to be a meteor falling down somewhere in Collier County. We saw it @ 8:30 PM south of Immokalee Road between Goodlette Frank and Airport Pulling, turning into a fireball on its way down…Awesome…


  9. a fire ball was seen by two of my friends in sunnybrae cal. yesterday


  10. Jenny Forward says: February 12, 2013 at 12:40 am

    My friend and I saw 3 unusual relatively slow falling objects about 30 sec to a minute apart that had a quite wide yellow trails fall and they appeared to be falling slightly south east of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia at about 1:30am (Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) +1100 UTC) on Saturday 9th February. We weren’t sure if they were meteors or space debris


  11. I live in Montreal, Canada. Last night around 8:00 pm, I saw something in the sky, when I took the binoculars, could see green, red and yellow light moving slowly and straight . .. at first I thought it was a star until I took the binoculars.. It seem to be disappearing real slow! Until nothing left! I looked at it for about an hour before nothing left! I was wondering what in the world could that be??


    • Isa and All,

      Meteors and fireballs only last a matter of seconds. Satellites last a few minutes. Even aircraft usually disappear after a few minutes. The only thing left are some sort of balloon or floating lantern.

      I hope this helps.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  12. We live in northern British Columbia (Canada) and went out to our cabin on the lake on Feb 10, 2013 and saw that something made a round 4 – 5 foot diameter hole in the ice about 40 feet from shore and we’re thinking that it may have been a meteorite. The water in the hole just had several inches of light snow on it so it looks like the event had just happened a couple days before our arrival on the 10th (the snow was 2 1/2 feet deep everywhere else). There were no tracks anywhere as we were the first out there this winter. So we’re wondering if there was any meteor activity/showers prior to or on Feb 10, 2013 in northern BC/Canada?


    • Liz and All,

      Nearly all meteorites are random events and not associated with known meteor showers. I would suggest searching our fireball reports for an event that matches your criteria. Researchers are still not 100% certain the hole in the ice in Russia was created by the fireball of February 15th. So the odds of your hole in the ice being related to a meteor is probably remote at best. Only by finding a meteorite beneath the water will you know for certain.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


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