Meteor Activity Outlook for March 17-23, 2012

- 11 Comments - In:

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Thursday March 22th. At that time the moon will be located near the sun and will not be visible at night. This weekend the waning crescent moon will rise during the early morning hours but will not interfere with meteor observations. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three for observers in the northern hemisphere and four for those south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near seven as seen from mid-northern latitudes and thirteen 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.

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 March 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 large Antihelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 12:40 (190) -05. This position lies in western Virgo, only three degrees south of the famous third magnitude double star Porrima (Gamma Virginis). Due to the large size of this radiant, Antihelion activity may also appear from the nearby constellations of Crater, Corvus, and eastern Leo as well as Virgo. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight time (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 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Gamma Normids (GNO) is a weak shower best seen from the southern hemisphere. This shower is only visible south of forty degrees north latitude. The further one is located south (down to 50S) the better the radiant is situated in the sky. Expected rates from the southern hemisphere is currently near one per hour, even with the radiant located high in the sky. The current radiant position lies at 16:56 (254) -51. This position lies in central Norma, three degrees southwest of the fourth magnitude star Gamma Normae. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 56km/sec. the Gamma Normids would produce mostly swift meteors.

On Thursday morning, March 22, activity from the Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) may begin to be noticed. This shower is active on only five mornings with peak activity occurring on the 24th. Rates would likely be less than one shower member per hour, even at maximum activity. The radiant is located near 17:05 (256) -04. The area of the sky is located in a blank portion of central Ophiuchus, some eight degrees northeast of third magnitude Zeta Ophiuchi. The radiant is best placed during the last dark hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. At 64km/sec. the Zeta Serpentids would produce mostly swift meteors.

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 ten per hour as seen from rural observing sites and three per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

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
Antihelions (ANT) 12:40 (190) -05 30 02:00 2 – 2 II
Gamma Normids (GNO) Mar 13 16:56 (254) -51 56 06:00 <1 – 1 IV
Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) Mar 24 17:04 (256) -04 64 06:00 <1 – <1 IV



  • Paul Olinski 12 years ago

    tonight , 3/19/2012, I saw a meteor directly overhead @ 9:30 pm (2130 hrs.). It was traveling in a southwest direction and lasted about 3-4 seconds. my lat. + long. are 40,46,5 N / 74,8,44,W. I also saw one about a week ago that was much smaller and faster and was traveling almost due south @ around 8 pm (2000 hrs.) from the same location and again it was directly overhead. I have not seen any meteors for a couple of years and found this to be a bit unusual, especially since I was merely looking at the stars while I was enjoying the night air. are these possibly both from the same group or are they just possibly rogues that I happened to be lucky to spot? as far as I know this is not supposed to be an active month for meteors, but two in about a weeks time and a total of ten minutes viewing seems rather odd! any info would be welcome and I thank you in advance for your assistance. Sincerely, Paul O.

    Reply to Paul
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Paul, I think your timing was right on both occasions as March is definitely not an active month for meteors in the northern hemisphere. Some folks have all the Luck!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Stephanie 12 years ago

    I caught (by sight) a very low meteor this morning about 6am (Fort Wayne, IN) It was cloudy in the location I was at, had stopped by Wal-mart to buy a co-worker a birthday card and I got a present of my own as soon as I walked out the door, it was so low..I couldn’t believe it..must have just caught the very end of it because the light just trickled out as it went lower …I am sure this landed in the Wal-mart parking lot somewhere, it was that low. I just had always thought meteors were so much larger. -Stephanie 3/21/12

    Reply to Stephanie
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Stephanie, this same meteor was seen in Ohio and Michigan so I don’t think it landed in your Wal-Mart parking lot. It had a be a bit higher than you anticipated to be seen over this area.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
    • Lynn L. 12 years ago

      I saw it around 6:25am on 3/21/12….It was amazing and so large! Wonder if anyone got it on film?

      Reply to Lynn
  • Cathy Fournier 12 years ago

    This morning on my way to work at 6:18 a.m. I saw what look like a small ball of fire with a tail on it comming down right in frount of me. It went behind some houses possable into the empty field.

    Reply to Cathy
  • Leonard Zoncick 12 years ago

    Traveling east on US 20 bypass this morning from South Bend, Indiana, to Elkhart, I noticed a red ball falling from the sky and breaking apart as I was approaching the exit for 19 in Elkhart. It look like it was a 1/2 mile south of me. Strangest thing I ever seen. This happened about 6:35 AM – 3/21/12

    Reply to Leonard
  • Maria Contreras 12 years ago

    I just witnessed a meteor I was watching it for about an hour, now I am watching one come in from the southwest heading Northwest, I am in Fresno Ca. I am so excited that I found this website.

    Reply to Maria
  • Lynn L. 12 years ago

    I am in Trenton (southeast Michigan near the water & south of Detroit)…I was looking west and saw the meteor at ~6:25 am on 3/21/12…it was amazing! I did not know what it was since it was so large in the sky and so low.

    Reply to Lynn
  • Kirk L. 12 years ago

    I live in Fayetteville NC and I just saw a huge shooting star travelling southwest in the sky. Beautiful.

    Reply to Kirk
  • Steven M 12 years ago

    Just witnessed a bright fast shooter here in Las Vegas around 10:50 PM 3/30/2012 heading in a southerly direction.

    Reply to Steven

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *