Meteor Activity Outlook for April 14-20, 2018

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Meteors during the 2015 Lyrid shower over Tucson, AZ. © Sean Parker

During this period the moon will reach it’s new phase on Sunday April 15. At that time the moon will be located near the sun and will not be visible at night. As the week progresses the waxing crescent moon will enter the evening sky but will not cause any interference to meteor observers, especially during the more active morning hours. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is 3 as seen from mid-northern latitude (45N) and 4 from the southern tropics (25S). For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 7 as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45N) and 10 from the southern tropics (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. 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 April 14/15 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 near 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 21:00 LDT

Radiant Positions at 9:00pm
Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00 LDT

Radiant Positions at 01:00am
Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 5:00 LDT

Radiant Positions at 5:00am Local Daylight Saving Time

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

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The pi Puppids (PUP) are active from April 15-28 which maximum activity predicted to occur on the 23rd. Some of these meteors may be seen from the southern hemisphere from a radiant located at 07:04 (106) -44. This area of the sky is located central Puppis, 5 degrees west of the 3rd magnitude star Sigma Puppis. This area of the sky is best seen as soon as it becomes dark during the early evening hours. No matter your location, rates are expected to be low. Observers located in the tropical northern hemisphere may also see some activity but at latitudes north of 30 degrees north, the odds are against seeing any activity at all. At 15km/sec. the Pi Puppids would produce meteors of very slow velocity.

The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 14:32 (218) -15. This position lies in western Libra, 5 degrees northwest of the 3rd magnitude star known as Zubenelgenubi (alpha Librae). Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from eastern Virgo as well as Libra. 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 2 per hour as seen from mid-northern latitudes and 3 per hour as seen from latitude 25 S.With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

Lyrid (LYR) meteors should begin appearing on April 14th and will reach maximum activity on the morning of the 22nd. The radiant is currently located at 17:52 (268) +33. This area of the sky is actually located in eastern Hercules, 4 degrees south of the 4th magnitude star known as Rukbalgethi Genubi (theta Herculis). This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at maximum are normally 10-15 per hour but this week they will only produce 1-2 per hour and less as seen from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 46 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of medium-fast velocity.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 5 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 2 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 8 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 3 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures.

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
pi Puppids (PUP) Apr 23 07:04 (106) -44 15 18:00 <1 – <1 III
Anthelion (ANT) 14:32 (218) -15 30 02:00 2 – 2 II
Lyrids (LYR) Apr 22 17:52 (268) +33 46 05:00 <1 – <1 IV

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2 comments

  • Mickey 6 months ago

    Thank you I enjoy meteor shower here very good!

    Reply to Mickey
  • Aniko 6 months ago

    This morning at 3:02 am I saw a blue flash in my back yard but there were no noises nothing it was just a flash and there was freezing rain to to I just wanted to comment this rockland,Ontario

    Reply to Aniko

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