Meteor Activity Outlook for February 16-22, 2013

- 17 Comments - In:

Radiants as seen at 7pm

Radiants as seen at Midnight

Radiants as seen at 5am

During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Sunday February 17th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees east of the sun and sets near midnight local standard time (LST) as seen from mid-northern latitudes. As the week progresses the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours, allowing a few hours of dark skies between the time of moon set and the beginning of morning twilight. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and four as seen from south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eight from the mid-northern hemisphere and seventeen 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. Evening rates are reduced during this period 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 16/17. 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 10:44 (161) +07. This position lies in southern Leo, ten degrees southeast 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 one per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Antihelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Alpha Centaurids (ACE) are active from a radiant located at 14:43 (221) -62. This position lies in southeastern Centaurus, very close to the position occupied by the zero magnitude star Rigel Kentaurus (Alpha 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. This shower peaked on February 8th so current rates would be near one per hour as seen from the southern hemisphere. At 56km/sec. the Alpha Centaurids would produce mostly swift meteors.

The Beta Herculids are active through Tuesday from a radiant located at 15:52 (238) +28. This position is actually located in Corona Borealis, four degrees northeast of the second magnitude star Alphecca (Alpha Coronae Borealis). It is suggested that the observer be liberal with shower association as the actual radiant position is not well defined. These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour before dawn 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. Observers in the northern hemisphere have an advantage in that the radiant lies higher in the sky during the morning hours. At 56 km/sec. the Beta Herculids would produce mostly swift meteors.

The IMO video list of radiants has several entries for the Delta Serpentids (DSE). On most nights of possible activity this shower is extremely weak, far less than the weak sporadic rate seen this time of year from the northern hemisphere. On the morning of the February 16th though, it becomes the second most active radiant in the sky. At that time the radiant is located at 16:37 (249) +09, which actually places it in among the stars of Ophiuchus. The nearest bright stars are fourth magnitude Kappa and Iota Ophiuchi, which lie six degrees to the east. This position is well seen from either side of the equator. These meteors are best seen near during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. On other mornings rates for this shower are so weak that the chance of sporadic alignment is extremely high. At 57 km/sec. the Delta Serpentids would produce mostly swift meteors.

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 one per hour. As seen from the mid-southern hemisphere (45S), morning rates would be near fourteen 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. Rates are reduced during the evening hours 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 .

RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Standard Time North-South
Anthelions (ANT) 10:44 (161) +07 30 01:00 1 – 1 II
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Feb 08 14:43 (221) -62 56 05:00 <1 – 1 II
Beta Herculids (BHE) Feb 13 15:52 (238) +28 56 06:00 <1 – <1 IV
Delta Serpentids (DSE) Feb 16 16:37 (249) +09 57 07:00 1 – 1 IV



  • Eileen Workman 7 years ago

    My husband and I just spotted a very large fireball moving SSW across the sky. We live in The Sea Ranch, north of San Francisco. The fireball appeared around 7:55 PM PST, dropping over the Pacific Ocean. This is the largest fireball I’ve ever seen, and the lowest. It appeared as bright as the full moon, growing in intensity and then vanishing.

    Reply to Eileen
  • Emmanuel Martinez 7 years ago

    Saw a large white ball traversing downward in the southern sky at 2130 Central Time in Converse, TX on 16FEB2013

    Reply to Emmanuel
  • Susan Gorsuch-Metivier 7 years ago

    At About 10:10 was outside for a walk. Saw a “shooting star” in the sky travelling from what I think is the south west sky across the sky in a northeasterly direction. It went from shooting star looking to fire ball, burst into red and yellow ball and I could actually see fragment detaching and falling! It was amazing!!! This report is from Peoria AZ. What an amazing sight! Very exciting

    Reply to Susan
  • Al 7 years ago

    I live in Miami Springs, Florida and witnessed what appeared to be a rapidly streaking fireball in the eastern sky moving north to south to the east of our position towards the Miami Coastline at approx 6:45-6:50pm on 2-17-2013. Pretty Insane, we never see stuff like that here.

    Reply to Al
  • tam 7 years ago

    I live in West Virginia , and I don’t know what I saw.On Feb. 18 , on my way to school, there were streaks going all over the place that looked like streaks from an airplane only wider an longer, and sometimes criss-crossing. When I stopped at an intersection, there was what looked like a cloud, sort of ,but illuminated a little. Then when I got home my daughter saw a similar “cloud”, which disappeared quickly. Does anyone have any idea what this was?

    Reply to tam
    • amsadmin 7 years ago

      Fireballs are usually solitary events so I doubt if it was anything more than aircraft contrails. There are times when the atmosphere actually enhances contrails causing them to grow longer and wider. If the sun is at the right angle it can also illuminate portions of these contrails.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Crystal 7 years ago

    Driving home last night, Monday 2/18/13, my boyfriend Ryan and I saw a meteor-fireball streak down due north ending just a hair north north west. it was roughly 11:15pm. We were headed north in Carroll County New Hampshire. I haven’t seen much reported on this. It was really something to see!

    Reply to Crystal
  • shana 7 years ago

    Hi ! We live in SE Texas, just north of Houston. Driving home we saw a very low and wide trail in the sky. It did not appear to be from an aircraft, but I am not positive. It seemed to leave “holes” in the clouds it passed through. I have a video also. Are there any reports of activity in this area ?

    Reply to shana
    • amsadmin 7 years ago

      Shana and All,

      The last fireball we have received from Texas occurred on 2/17 at 7:45pm CST. We invite you to fill out a fireball report and to share your video on the AMS website.


      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Alonso Martinez 7 years ago

    Saw a fast moving object on 2/19 in Northern VA. I marked the time as 7:34 pm, moving from South to North. It caught my attention because of the speed. We live close to Dulles Airport, but it was moving too fast and high to be a departing plane. Any reports on this?

    Reply to Alonso
  • Jenny Tsouvalas 7 years ago

    I spotted a meteor extremely bight on February 21, 2013 in Arcadia, CA at 9:38 PM pacific standard time. It was fantastic!

    Reply to Jenny
  • Jenny Galante 7 years ago

    I saw a really big and brite moving object with a trailing fire
    On Febuary 21 at around 10:30pm Pacific Time in San Diego, CA. It was amazing!!

    Reply to Jenny
  • mary mouser 7 years ago

    February 22 2013 @ 8:25 p.m. 5 bright orange, fast moving objects traveling east to west shot above us through the sky, then quickly burned out leaving a moving clouds of smoke. Pembroke pines, Florida.

    Reply to mary
  • Jamie 7 years ago

    I was outside for about 10 minutes at around 12:15 am on 2/24/13 and I saw two different “shooting stars”. The first one traveled from West to East across the sky and about 5 minutes later the second one traveled North to South. Both were bright orange colored and and a long tail. It was like they just disappeared or burnt out. Anything reported in the Somerset, Ky area?

    Reply to Jamie
    • amsadmin 7 years ago

      Jamie and All,

      A quick look at the pending list of fireball events on the AMS website shows two reports of your object, one from Illinois and another from Ohio. I would advise you to please take the time and fill out an AMS report too.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Kal 7 years ago

    On feb 25 2013 bout 10:10-10:18 noticed a bright orange streak cross over head in Chandler arizona 3 mins later looked southwest and saw a giant shadow in a tumbling manor going the opposite direction from my point of view it was 3/4 the size of the moon . My question is did anyone see any of those events , if so please send pics or video for me by posting on you tube date it for (asteroid in the sky feb 25 2013)

    Reply to Kal
  • William Wilgus 7 years ago

    Last night, February 24, 2014 at approx. 9 P.M., I saw a bright orange ball that seemed very close not like a normal shooting star cross my line of site traveling from West to East from the Northern sky. The tail seemed to stretch the whole length of the sky. I was able to call my daughter to come see it, that’s how much time it stayed visible. I live in Gibbstown, NJ 08027.

    Reply to William

Leave a Reply

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