Meteor Activity Outlook for September 17-23, 2011

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During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Tuesday September 20th. At this time the moon will lie ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near 0100 local daylight time (LDT) as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will interfere with meteor observing during the morning hours. Skies will be dark during the early evening hours until moon rise, which will occur during the late evening hours. It would be better to wait until later this week to view meteor activity, when the moon becomes less bothersome. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near four as seen from the northern hemisphere and two as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near nine as seen from mid-northern latitudes and six from mid-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. 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 September 17/18. 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 Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is now centered at 01:08 (017) +05. This area of the sky lies in southern Pisces, three degrees north of the fourth magnitude star Epsilon Piscium. This radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky.  Rates at this time should be near two per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 27 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of medium-slow speed.

Many radiants in the region of Eridanus have been suspected this time of year. Recent studies of the IMO’s video database by Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel has verified a radiant active in Eridanus from September 3rd through the 24th with maximum activity occurring on the 7th. The Nu Eridanid (NUE) radiant is currently located at 04:53 (073) +06. This position lies in western Orion near the third magnitude star Pi 3 Orionis. The radiant is best placed during the last hour before the start of morning twilight. Rates may be close to one per hour this week. With an entry velocity of 68 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift. With the radiant lying close to the celestial equator, these meteors are seen equally well from both hemispheres.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately six 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 one per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are reduced by moonlight.

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 10 01:08 (017) +05 27 02:00 2 – 2 II
Nu Eridanids (NUE) Sep 07 04:53 (073) +06 68 07:00 1 – 1 IV


One comment

  • Donald Sieber 12 years ago

    Good info. I’m presently setting up to video tape showers as seen by the X10 sentinal dark surveillance camera. I will also soon (I hope) have an Orion allsky camera as soon as they can make them fast enough to fill the orders. I’ve been recording radio meteors constantly for about 7 years now. By the way, the X10 camera does a good job in near darkness but I bought the one in an all weather container. The seller never mentioned dont expose to direct sun. I did for a short time (accident) and lost remote axis drives as the plastic supports sagged.


    Reply to Donald

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