Meteor Activity Outlook for January 18-24, 2014

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Radiant Positions at 7pm LST

Radiant Positions at 7pm Local Standard Time

Radiant Positions at Midnight LST

Radiant Positions at Midnight Local Standard Time

Radiant positions at 5am LST

Radiant Positions at 5am Local Standard Time

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Friday January 24th. At this time the moon will lie 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local standard time (LST). This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the early evening and will remain in the sky the rest of the night This will produce a major obstacle to viewing meteors as the glare from the bright moon will obscure all but the brightest meteors. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 2 no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 10 for observers viewing from mid-northern latitudes and 8 for observers located at tropical southern latitudes. 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 are reduced this week due to moonlight. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brightest meteors will be visible from such locations.

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 January 18/19. 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 table below presents a list of radiants that are expected to be active this week. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning. Details of each source will continue next week when moonlight conditions are much better.

HOWER 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) 08:52 (133) +16 29 00:00 1 – <1 II
January Xi Ursae Majorids (XUM) Jan 19 11:17 (169) +32 46 02:00 <1 – <1 IV
January Comae Berenicids (JCO) Jan 23 12:28 (187) +16 65 03:00 1 – <1 IV
IMO #014 Jan 18 13:04 (196) -16 70 04:00 1 – 2 IV
Nu Bootids A(NBO) Jan 19 13:24 (201) +14 69 04:00 1 – <1 IV
Nu Bootids B(NBO) Jan 19 14:22 (216) +11 68 05:00 <1 – <1 IV
Lambda Bootids (LBO) Jan 21 15:00 (225) +46 46 06:00 <1 – <1 IV
Gamma Ursae Minorids (GUM) Jan 20 15:08 (227) +69 31 06:00 <1 – <1 IV

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3 comments

  • nelson 3 years ago

    on jan 18, 2014 I was present at the scene of a fire in the back yard of a house located in the san fernando valley of Los Angeles. A tree in the back yard of a house had fought on fire. The resident was an elderly women who was inside the house. The fire department put out the fire, but was unable to determine how the tree caught fire. A security guard near by said he saw a fireball in the sky just before the fire. was this a meteor strike?

    Reply to nelson
    • amsadmin 3 years ago

      Despite what many believe, meteors that survive to the surface of the earth are actually cool to the touch. The reason for this is that the thick lower atmosphere slows them down to a virtual stop while still at least 5 miles altitude. From this altitude they basically “free fall” to the ground in a temperature far below zero, robbing them of all the heat built up during the first portions of its descent. When they reach the ground they are not hot and cannot be blamed for any fire.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Roxy Allen 3 years ago

    On the 01-18-14 I went outside for a moment and I saw this bright bluish-green light that appeared to me to look about the same size as a light from a lamp-post. I saw it slowly coming down changing into a bright orange-red glow. I live in amarillo, TX though.

    Reply to Roxy

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