Meteor Activity Outlook for October 13-19, 2018

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This pole grazing meteor was captured by on September 8, 2018, by Joseph Msallam from Troodos, Limassol on the island of Cyprus. Its trajectory indicates that it is a possible member of the September epsilon Perseid stream.

During this period the moon will reach its new phase on Tuesday October 16th. At this time the moon will be located 90 degrees east of the sun and will set near midnight local daylight saving time (DST). This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the late evening hours leaving the remainder of the night nice and dark for meteor observing. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 for those viewing from the northern hemisphere and 2 for those located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 22 as seen from mid-northern latitudes and 16 from the southern tropics. Evening rates are slightly reduced during this period due to moonlight. 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 October 13/14. 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 9pm LDT

Radiant Positions at 21:00
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 5am LDT

Radiant Positions at 5:00
Local Daylight Saving Time

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

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are active from a large radiant located at 01:56 (029) +16. This area of the sky is located in southwestern Aries, 3 degrees south of the 3rd magnitude double star known as Mesarthim (gamma 2 Arietis). This position is close to the Southern Taurids so care must be taken in separating these meteors. You should have the two radiants near the center of your field of view to properly differentiate these sources. The maximum is not expected until early November so current rates would be 1 per hour or less. These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0200 DST when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. With an entry velocity of 28 km/sec., the average Northern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Southern Taurids (STA) are active from a large radiant centered near 02:12 (033) +09. This position lies in northeastern Cetus, near the spot occupied by the 4th magnitude star known as xi 2 Ceti. These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0200 DST when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Rates at this time should be near 3 per hour regardless of your location. With an entry velocity of 27 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The omicron Eridanids (OER) were discovered by Japanese observers using video data from SonotoCo in 2007-2008. The activity period ranges from October 16 – November 24 with maximum activity¬† occurring on November 4th. This is a weak shower that usually produces rates less than 1 per hour, even at maximum activity. The radiant is currently located at¬† 02:20 (035) -06, which places it in eastern Cetus, 8 degrees southwest of the 4th magnitude star known as delta Ceti. This location is close to the source of the Southern Taurids so care must be taken to separate these meteors. Like the STA’s these meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0200 DST when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average omicron Eridanid meteor would be of slow velocity.

The Orionids (ORI) are active from a radiant located at 05:51 (088) +16. This area of the sky is located on the Taurus/Orion border, 8 degrees north of the bright 1st magnitude orange star known as Betelgeuse (alpha Orionis). This area of the sky is best placed near 05:00 DST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Current rates should be near 3-5 per hour no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

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 23 all the way to November 16. A very shallow maximum occurred near September 24. The radiant currently lies at 06:24 (096) +10, which places it in northwestern Monoceros, 7 degrees south of the 2nd magnitude star known as Alhena (gamma Geminorum). 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 67 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity. Some experts feel that these meteors are early members of the Orionid shower, which peaks on October 22.

The epsilon Geminids (EGE) are active from September 30 through October 25 with maximum activity occurring on October 11. The radiant is currently located at 06:29 (097) +28, which places where the borders of Auriga, and Gemini, 3 degrees northwest of the 3rd magnitude star known as Mebsuta (epsilon Geminorum). This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Current rates should be near 2 per hour from the northern hemisphere and 1 as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 70 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The October Ursae Majorids (OCU) were discovered by a group of Japanese observers in 2006. This source is only active for 3 nights centered on October 15th. The radiant is located at 09:40 (145) +65. This position lies in western Ursa Major, 3 degrees northwest of the faint star known as 23 Ursae Majoris. This area of the sky is best placed in the sky during the last hour before dawn, when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Rates at maximum would be most likely near 1 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere. Due to the high northern declination, these meteors would be extremely difficult to see from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 56km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed.

The Leonis Minorids (LMI) are active from October 12-Nov 5 with maximum activity occurring on October 22nd. This radiant is currently located at 10:07 (152) +40, which places it in northern Leo Minor, 3 degrees southwest of the 3rd magnitude star known as Tania Australis (mu Ursae Majoris). The radiant is best placed just before dawn when it lies highest in a dark sky. This shower is better situated for observers situated in the northern hemisphere where the radiant rises far higher into the sky before the start of morning twilight. Current rates would be less than 1 no matter your location. At 62km/sec., the average Leonis Minorid is swift. From my personal experience this minor shower produces a high proportion of bright meteors.

As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 10 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 7 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 1 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 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
Northern Taurids (NTA) Nov 02 01:56 (029) +16 28 02:00 1 – <1 II
Southern Taurids (STA) Oct 29 02:12 (033) +09 27 02:00 3 – 3 II
omicron Eridanids (OER) Nov 04 02:20 (035) -06 29 02:00 <1 – <1 IV
Orionids (ORI) Oct 22 05:51 (088) +16 67 05:00 4 – 3 I
nu Eridanids (NUE) Sep 24 06:24 (096) +10 67 06:00 1 -1 IV
epsilon Geminids (EGE) Oct 11 06:29 (097) +28 70 06:00 2 – 2 II
October Ursae Majorids (OCU) Oct 15 09:40 (145) +65 56 09:00 1 – <1 IV
Leonis Minorids (LMI) Oct 22 10:07 (152) +40 62 10:00 <1 – <1 IV

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