Viewing the 2020 September epsilon Perseids

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Normally, the September epsilon Perseids meteor shower (SPE) produce a peak of around 5 meteors per hour at maximum. This year, with a 60 percent illuminated moon rising near 22:30 (10:30pm) local summer time, one could easily dismiss the probably of seeing anything extraordinary from this source. Yet interplanetary dust expert Jérémie Vaubaillon has brought to our attention that the Earth may pass through debris streams that were produced by an unknown source in 1375 and 1848. The timing of these passages occurs on September 9 near 9:55 universal time (4:55am CDT) for the 1848 stream and 13:32 universal time (11:55pm HST on Sept. 8) for the 1375 stream. These times favor North America for the first encounter and the eastern Pacific area for the second encounter as it will be daylight across the European continent. The density of these streams is unknown so predictions of meteor activity can only be a guess. The best advice is to expect nothing at all and hope for the best!

On the night of maximum activity, the radiant for the September epsilon Perseids lies at 03:12 (048) +40. This position is easy to locate in the sky as it lies only one degree southeast of the bright variable star known as Algol (beta Persei). Unfortunately, the bright half-moon will lie in the neighboring constellation of Taurus, not far from the SPE radiant. The best strategy would be to keep the moon out of your field of view yet still trying to include Algol to help determine the shower association of any meteors seen. Trying to view activity prior to moon rise would most likely yield little success as the radiant only achieves an altitude of 30 degrees 45 minutes after moon rise.

This illustration shows the position of the SPE radiant and the moon on the morning of September 9. This view is looking eastward straight up in the sky. This is similar to what will be seen at 9:55 UT (4:55am CDT) from the central USA. It is suggested that you view further northward in the sky so that the moon is out of your field of view and the SPE radiant lies near the top.

If your skies are clear and transparent on the night of September 8/9, we highly recommend that you try to verify any activity rom this source. Visual observing forms are available on the AMS website. You may send these to Robert Lunsford at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net. The International Meteor Organization has a visual form available to everyone on their website (free registration required). Your observations will help us advance our knowledge of these obscure meteor showers!

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4 comments

  • Meredith C 3 weeks ago

    Just spotted a few meteors at 8:15pm in Wilmington VT seen about 7 going overhead so far!

    Reply to Meredith
  • Richard Alberty 3 weeks ago

    about 7 fire balls from north to s/e and s – north. just after 8 pm . Middletown Springs, Vt sept 9th 2020

    Reply to Richard
  • sDi 3 weeks ago

    Just spotted a meteor at 5:10am September 12th 2020. Port Perry Ontario, Canada.

    Reply to sDi
  • Benjamin 3 weeks ago

    Saw a huge fireball last night at about 10:00… Went from east to west directly overhead…..

    Reply to Benjamin

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