Meteor Activity Outlook for May 4-10, 2019

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David Rankin captured this bright fireball from Big Water, Utah USA at 09:11 Universal Time on April 15, 2019 © David Rankin

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Saturday May 4th. At this time the moon is invisible at night and poses no problems to meteor observers. As the week progresses the slender crescent moon will enter the evening sky but will set long before the more active morning hours arrive. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 for those viewing from the northern hemisphere and 4 for those located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 8 as seen from mid-northern latitudes (45N) and 13 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. 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 brightest 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 May 04/05. 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.

Radiant Positions at 9:00pm LDST

Radiant Positions at 9:00pm Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 01:00 LDST

Radiant Positions at 1:00am Local Daylight Saving Time

Radiant Positions at 05:00 LDST

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 center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 15:48 (237) -20. This position lies on the Libra/Scorpius border, 3 degrees west of the 3rd magnitude star known as Acrab (beta Scorpii). Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from eastern Libra, southern Ophiuchus as well as northwestern Scorpius. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local Daylight Saving Time (LDST), 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 (45 N) and 3 per hour as seen from the southern tropics (S 25) . With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of slow velocity.

The eta Lyrids (ELY) are active from May 6-13 with maximum activity occurring on the 11th. The radiant is currently located at 19:04 (286) +43. This area of the sky is located in northeastern Lyra, 4 degrees northwest of the 4th magnitude star known as eta Lyrae. This radiant is best placed during the last hour before dawn when it lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 no matter your location. These meteors are not well seen from locations south of the equator as the radiant does not rise very high into the northern sky. With an entry velocity of 44 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of medium velocity.

The eta Aquariids (ETA) are particles from Halley’s Comet, produced in Earth-crossing orbits many centuries ago. We pass closest to these orbits from May 3 through the 11th. During this period the eta Aquariids are at their best, capable of producing zenith hourly rates (ZHRs) of 60. The actual visible rates are most often less than half this figure due to the low altitude of the radiant at dawn. Observed hourly rates at maximum normally vary from zero at 60 degrees north latitude to 30 near the equator and back down to near zero again in Antarctica, where the radiant elevation is again very low. Hourly rates this weekend will most likely be 5-10 per hour as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Southern tropical observers may see 10-20 shower members per hour just before dawn. The radiant is currently located at 22:25 (336) -02. This area of the sky is located in northern Aquarius,  1 degree east of the 4th magnitude star known as Sadachbia (gamma Aquarii). The best time to view this activity is during the hour before the start of morning twilight, when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. With the radiant low in the east it would be best to face halfway up in the sky in that same direction. If the radiant has sufficient altitude eta Aquariid meteors can also be seen shooting down toward the eastern horizon. With an entry velocity of 66 kilometers per second, a majority of these meteors will appear to move swiftly with a high percentage of the bright meteors leaving persistent trains. Surprisingly, this shower produces very few fireballs. For more details on this display visit: https://www.imo.net/viewing-the-eta-aquariid-meteor-shower-in-2019/

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 9 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.

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) 15:48 (237) -20 30 02:00 2 – 3 II
eta Lyrids (ELY) May 11 19:04 (286) +43 44 05:00 <1 – <1 II
eta Aquariids (ETA) May 07 22:25 (336) -02 66 09:00 5 – 15 I

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2 comments

  • KT Wolf 7 months ago

    I spotted a very large meteorite on its way down last night at 11:45 p.m., in the eastern sky from Madison, Wisconsin, streaking north-to-south at a down-angle of about -17 degrees. I was looking for a spot to report it and can’t find anything. Unlike “shooting stars,” pin-points that streak overhead quickly and disappear, this was large* enough that something might have made it to the ground; the last time I saw one this size it was a big deal and there were pieces located in Iowa. (*Occupied perhaps half an arc-angle to my eye?)

    Someone else spotted the same thing, confirmed via Facebook, and what I saw as greenish, he saw as blue-ish. (Typical color perception differences between men versus women.) The fact that he saw it at the same time and in the same general color makes it seem pretty well confirmed.

    Reply to KT
  • Bamon Timung 7 months ago

    Saw a meteorite on 6th of may 2019. Coming down from the south to north towards Himalayas, Tibet or China. Viewed from Location (Diphu, Assam, India).

    Reply to Bamon

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