Meteor Activity Outlook for August 26-September 1, 2017

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Aurigids (composite) and satellite trail – Sep. 1st 2007 – Credits: Jason Hatton – © NASA/ESA

During this period the moon will reach its first quarter phase on Tuesday August 29th. At this time the half-illuminated moon will be located 90 degrees east of the sun and will set near midnight for observers located at mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the late evening hours allowing the more active morning hours to be free of interfering moonlight. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 4 for those viewing from the northern hemisphere and 3 for those located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 17 as seen from mid-northern latitudes and 10 from the southern tropics. 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. 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 brighter 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 August 26/27. 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 far 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.

Radiant Positions at 10pm LDT

Radiant Positions at 10:00pm
Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00 Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00
Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 4am LDT

Radiant Positions at 4:00
Local Daylight Saving Time

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

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The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 23:04 (346) -06. This position lies in eastern Aquarius , 2 degrees northwest of the 4th magnitude star known as phi Aquarii. Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from western Pisces as well as Aquarius. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local daylight saving time (LDT), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Hourly rates at this time should be near 2 no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of medium-slow velocity.

The nu Eridanids (NUE) were co-discovered by Japanese observers using SonotoCo and Juergen Rendtel and Sirko Molau of the IMO. Activity from this long-period stream stretches from August 24 all the way to November 16. Maximum activity occurs on September 24. The radiant currently lies at 03:24 (051) +01, which places it in extreme southwestern Taurus, 5 degrees southeast of the 3rd magnitude star known as Menkar (alpha Ceti). This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.

The eta Eridanids (ERI) were discovered by Japanese observers back in 2001. Activity from this stream is seen from July 23 though September 17 with maximum activity occurring on August 11. The radiant currently lies at 03:52 (058) -08, which places it in northern Eridanus, 2 degrees northeast of the 4th magnitude star known as Rana (delta Eridani). This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be near 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.

The first members of the Aurigids (AUR) should appear this weekend. The radiant currently lies at 05:40 (085) +39, which places it in central Auriga, 3 degrees west of the close pair of stars known as nu and tau Aurigae. These stars are 3 degrees northwest of the 2nd magnitude star known as theta Aurigae. This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. Rates will stay low until the morning of maximum activity, which is September 1st. On that morning rates could reach 5 per hour, but 1-2 are more likely. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 14 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 3 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 7 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 2 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Evening rates are reduced during this period due to moonlight.

The list below offers the information from above in tabular form. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning except where noted in the shower descriptions.

SHOWER DATE OF MAXIMUM ACTIVITY CELESTIAL POSITION ENTRY VELOCITY CULMINATION HOURLY RATE CLASS
RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Daylight Saving Time North-South
Anthelions (ANT) 23:04 (346) -06 30 02:00 2 – 2 II
nu Eridanids (NUE) Sep 24 03:24 (051) +01 67 07:00 <1 – <1 IV
eta Eridanids (ERI) Aug 11 03:52 (058) -08 65 07:00 1 – 1 IV
Aurigids (AUR) Sep 01 05:40 (085) +39 67 09:00 <1 – <1 II

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One comment

  • James 3 months ago

    Saw a quick moving green light moving on a downward angle over Connellsville Pa at approximately 9 pm tonight. Items was moving very fast

    Reply to James

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