Meteor Activity Outlook for February 20-26, 2016

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The Chelyabinsk superbolide flew over the Urals early on the morning of February 15, 2013. © Alex Alishevskikh (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Radiant Positions at 7pm LST

Radiant Positions at 7pm Local Standard Time

Radiant Positions at Midnight Local Standard Time

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 full phase on Monday February 22nd. On that date the moon will be located opposite the sun and will lie above the horizon for most of the night. This will be the worst time of the month to try and view meteor activity as the bright moon all obscure all but the brightest meteors. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 2 for observers located in the northern hemisphere and 3 for observers located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 4 as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45N) and 8 as seen from tropical southern locations (25S). 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 during this period are reduced due to the intense 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 20/21. 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.

These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week.

Details of each source will continue next week when moonlight is less intense.

    RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Standard Time North-South  
Anthelions (ANT) 11:00 (165) +05 30 01:00 1 – 1 II
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Feb 08 15:04 (226) -63 56 04:45 <1 – <1 II
February Mu Virginids (FMV) Feb 26 15:32 (233) -04 62 05:15 <1 – <1 IV


One comment

  • Kathryn 7 years ago

    Walked out my back door this morning at about 6:20. The sun was coming up but one bright star in the south east sky caught my attention and I was happy it did because I saw a shooting star and then another. I guess you could call it a meteor drizzle, lol. I moved to Florida in Dec. of 2014 and although I do not like the blistering heat and flat lands it makes for great and comforterable star gazing. I’ve always been a night person and have always enjoyed admiring the stars and evening sky but now I find myself even more interested. Peace, possibilities, hope and wonder are what I feel when cast my gaze upon a clear night sky. For so long after a heartbreaking divorce those feelings and emotions eluded me but now I need only to look to the heavens to find what makes me feel just that, Wonder, possibilities and Hope. I know…I sound like a mushy dork but that’s ok because I am.
    I found a pair of binoculars in the garage and have ordered a plaisphere and hope to find others here in Ocala Florida to spend time with and share in this amazing new ( to me) world that has reawakened my senses and soul. “Look to the night sky and rekindle the spark in your heart”. I did and its magical!!!

    Reply to Kathryn

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