ALPO Meteors Section

Coordinator: Robert Lunsford
 
The peak of the 1998 Leonid meteor shower (rich in bright fireballs), shown in a four-hour time exposure through a fisheye lens, and taken by Juraj Toth of Modra Observatory. This photograph demonstrates how the meteors in a particular shower appear to emanate from a certain point in the sky called the radiant. On a given night, this radiant point will remain relatively stationary with respect to the background star constellations; but will rise, traverse the sky, and set in the same manner as the sun and moon.
[Image: Leonid Meteor Shower Radiant]

Contents:


Viewing Meteor Activity

Since meteors are a transient phenomena one cannot go outside at night and expect to see meteor activity. This is especially true during the evening hours when the Earth is moving in the opposite direction from the sky seen above during those hours. At this time of night meteoroids (meteors in space) must catch up to the Earth in order to enter the Earth's atmosphere. Therefore meteor rates are lowest near 1800 (6:00pm) local time. Conditions for viewing meteor activity improves as the night progresses. At midnight a great majority of the meteors seen strike the Earth from a perpendicular angle instead of from behind. These conditions offer better rates than witnessed early in the evening but the general activity is still low when compared to the morning hours. During the dark morning hours the Earth is rotating toward the direction it moves in space, known as the apex. During this time the Earth slams head-on into meteoroids and many more will be seen. This is much like a vehicle driving through the rain. More raindrops will strike the front windshield compared to the rear window. The peak meteor activity occurs near 0600 local time.

In addition to the diurnal cycle there are also annual variations in the meteor activity. As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere the second half of the year is much more active than the first six months. The reason for this are several. First of all the sporadic (random) meteor activity is stronger during this period. Also most of the major annual showers active during the second half of the year have radiants located north of the celestial equator, favoring northern observers. The cycle seen from the mid-southern hemisphere is opposite with the better activity occurring during the first half of the year. Observers at the equator enjoy fair, but not exceptional activity all year long.

During certain times of the year the major meteor showers are active and increase the nightly activity severalfold. This is especially true if the moon is near its new phase and not brightening the nighttime sky. The list of these showers is provided below (see the class I showers).

This is also the best time to see fireballs, which are exceptionally bright meteors that can light the nighttime scene. These meteors can range from the light of the brightest planet Venus (magnitude -5) to that beyond the light produced by the full moon (magnitude >-13).


This double bursting fireball was photographed at 23:45 Universal Time on August 6, 2007 by Maurizio Eltri from central Venice, Italy. He estimated this sporadic (random) fireball to be of maximum magnitude -8, which is nearly as bright as the half moon. Picture courtesy of Maurizio Eltri, (Unione Astrofili Italiani Sezione Meteore).
[Image: Double Bursting Fireball]

To keep current on the upcoming meteor activity the Meteors Section invites you to subscribe to their quarterly newsletter, available for the price of postage (currently 49 cents per issue). To subscribe contact our section coordinator Robert Lunsford.


2014 Meteor Shower List

The 2014 Meteor Shower List is now presented in four separate parts. The showers are broken down by intensity with major, minor, variable, and weak showers being separated into their own groups. The general public is encouraged to use the list of major showers as they are the most well known and provide the most activity on a year to year basis. The other showers rarely surpass ten meteors per hour at maximum and are difficult to observe by the general public.


2014 Major Meteor Showers (Class I)

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity r Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
Quadrantids (QUA) Jan 01-Jan 10 Jan 03 283.16° 15:18 +49.5° 42.2 2.1 120 0500 02
Lyrids (LYR) Apr 18-Apr 25 Apr 22 032.32° 18:08 +32.9° 48.4 2.1 18 0400 21
Eta Aquarids (ETA) Apr 29-May 20 May 07 046.8° 22:36 -00.6° 67.5 2.4 60 0400 07
Delta Aquarids (SDA) Jul 21-Aug 23 Jul 30 126.9° 22:42 -16.4° 42.0 3.2 20 0300 03
Perseids (PER) Jul 13-Aug 26 Aug 13 140.0° 03:12 +57.6° 60.5 2.6 100 0400 17
Orionids (ORI) Aug 25-Nov 19 Oct 22 208.9° 06:24 +15.5° 67.1 2.5 20 0500 28
Leonids (LEO) Nov 06-Nov 30 Nov 18 236.1° 10:16 +21.6° 70.6 2.5 15 0500 25
Geminids (GEM) Dec 04-Dec 16 Dec 13 261°5 07:33 +32.2° 35.0 2.6 120 0100 20
Ursids (URS) Dec 17-Dec 24 Dec 22 270°7 14:30 +74.8° 32.6 3.0 10 0500 01

Information and Table Template Courtesy the International Meteor Organization.

The meteor showers listed above are the easiest to observe and provide the most activity. Particular attention should be noted to the time and moonlight conditions. All these showers are best seen after midnight. Some are not even visible until after midnight. Showers that peak with the moon's age between 10 and 20 days will be affected by moonlight and difficult to observe this year. While the time each shower is best seen remains much the same year after year, the moonlight conditions change considerably from one year to the next. We will post upcoming details of each major shower that is free from moonlight well in advance of their peak activity.



2014 Minor Meteor Showers (Class II)

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity r Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
Antihelion Source (ANT) Dec 05-Sep 06 - - - - 30.0 3.0 4 0100 -
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Jan 28-Feb 21 Feb 08 319°2 14:00 -59.0° 56.0 2.0 6 0500 09
Eta Lyrids (ELY) May 07-May 14 May 10 050° 19:24 +43.2° 43.4 3.0 3 0400 10
Alpha Capricornids (CAP) Jul 16-Aug 10 Jul 30 127° 20:20 -10.2° 24.9 2.5 5 0100 03
Kappa Cygnids (KCG) Aug 06-Aug 31 Aug 18 145° 18:30 +58.0° 22.7 3.0 3 2300 22
Aurigids (AUR) Aug 29-Sep 04 Sep 01 158°6 06:02 +39.3° 66.7 2.6 6 0400 06
September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) Sep 01-Sep 28 Sep 09 167° 03:12 +40.5° 65.9 2.9 5 0500 14
Southern Taurids (STA) Sep 07-Nov 19 Oct 10 197° 02:06 +08.7° 28.9 2.3 5 0200 16
Epsilon Geminids (EGE) Sep 29-Nov 03 Oct 22 209° 06:58 +27.0° 70.4 3.0 3 0500 28
Leonis Minorids (LMI) Oct 19-Oct 28 Oct 22 209° 10:43 +37.0° 62.1 2.7 2 0500 28
Northern Taurids (NTA) Oct 26-Dec 05 Nov 11 229° 03:54 +22.5° 29.4 2.3 5 0000 19
November Orionids (NOO) Nov 13-Dec 21 Nov 29 247° 06:05 +15.2° 44.1 2.3 3 0400 07
Sigma Hydrids (HYD) Nov 26-Dec 21 Dec 06 254° 08:12 +02.8° 61.6 3.0 3 0300 14
Puppid/Velids (PUP) Dec 01-Dec 15 Dec 07 255° 08:12 -45.0° 40.0 2.9 10 0400 15
Monocerotids (MON) Nov 27-Dec 17 Dec 09 257° 06:40 +08.1° 40.9 3.0 2 0100 17
Dec. Leonis Minorids (DLM) Dec 03-Jan 19 Dec 17 265° 10:37 +30.2° 64.3 3.0 5 0500 24
Coma Berenicids (COM) Dec 23-Jan 02 Dec 31 280° 12:06 +09.0° 69.4 3.0 5 0500 09

Information and Table Template Courtesy the International Meteor Organization.

The meteor showers listed above range from two to ten shower members per hour at maximum activity. These meteors can be detected by experienced observers but novice observers and the general public will have difficultly distinguishing these meteors from the major showers or sporadic (random) meteors.


2014 Variable Meteor Showers (Class III)

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity r Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
Pi Puppids (PPU) Apr 15-Apr 28 Apr 23 033.5° 07:20 -45.0° 18 2.0 var 1900 22
June Bootids (JBO) Jun 22- Jul 02 Jun 27 095.7° 14:56 +48° 18 2.2 var 2100 28
Draconids (GIA) Oct 06-Oct 10 Oct 09 196.0° 17:28 +56° 19 2.6 var 1800 15
Andromedids (AND) Oct 26-Nov 20 Nov 08 230.0° 01:31 +29.4° 19.4 2.5 var 2200 16
Alpha Monocerotids (AMO) Nov 15-Nov 25 Nov 21 239°32 07:48 +01° 65 2.4 var 0300 28
Dec Phoenicids (PHO) Nov 28-Dec 09 Dec 06 254°25 01:12 -53° 18 2.8 var 2000 14

Information and Table Template Courtesy the International Meteor Organization.

The meteor showers listed above produce strong activity on rare occasions. Most of the time only a few scattered remnants of these showers are observed with rates of one shower member per night. Note that most of these showers are best seen during the evening hours, a situation quite opposite most meteor showers.


2014 Weak Meteor Showers (Class IV)

 
Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
January Leonids (JLE) Jan 01-Jan 05 Jan 01 281.0° 09:46 +24.4° 53.9 <2 0300 00
Canum Venaticids (CVN) Jan 11-Jan 17 Jan 11 291.0° 14:03 +28.0° 58.8 <2 0500 09
Theta Corona Borealids (TCB) Jan 14-Jan 16 Jan 16 296.0° 15:40 +50.5° 38.6 <2 0500 14
IMO #14 Jan 18-Jan 22 Jan 18 298.0° 13:14 -20.0° 69.9 <2 0500 16
January Xi Ursae Majorids (XUM) Jan 18-Jan 21 Jan 19 299.0° 11:17 +32.0° 45.7 <2 0300 17
Nu Bootids A (NBO) Jan 17-Jan 20 Jan 19 299.0° 13:24 +14.0° 68.7 <2 0500 17
Nu Bootids B (NBO) Jan 19-Jan 25 Jan 19 299.0° 14:22 +10.5° 68.3 <2 0500 17
Gamma Ursae Minorids (GUM) Jan 18-Jan 23 Jan 20 300.0° 15:08 +68.0° 31.1 <2 0500 18
Lambda Bootids (LBO) Jan 17-Jan 23 Jan 21 301.0° 15:07 +42.0° 46.3 <2 0500 19
Jan. Comae Berenicids (JCO) Jan 20-Jan 27 Jan 23 303.0° 12:46 +15.0° 65.0 <2 0500 21
Alpha Coronae Borealids (ACB) Jan 27-Jan 31 Jan 28 308.0° 15:30 +26.5° 58.0 <2 0500 26
February Eta Draconids (FED) Jan 29-Feb 09 Feb 04 315.0° 15:59 +61.7° 35.6 <2 0500 05
February Epsilon Virginids (FEV) Feb 03-Feb 06 Feb 04 315.0° 13:24 +10.6° 65.0 <2 0500 05
Beta Herculids (BHE) Feb 13-Feb 19 Feb 13 324.0° 16:28 +24.0° 56.3 <2 0500 13
Delta Serpentids (DSE) Feb 16-Feb 16 Feb 16 327.0° 16:37 +08.5° 57.0 <2 0500 16
IMO #35 Feb 28-Mar 05 Mar 04 344.0° 16:39 +48.5° 39.9 <2 0500 03
IMO #37 Mar 05-Mar 10 Mar 05 345.0° 23:00 +41.5° 41.7 <2 1900 04
Xi Herculids (XHE) Mar 11-Mar 16 Mar 12 352.0° 17:11 +48.0° 36.6 <2 0500 11
Gamma Normids (GNO) Feb 25-Mar 22 Mar 13 353.0° 16:36 -51.0° 56.0 <2 0500 12
Northern March Virginids (NVI) Mar 14-Mar 22 Mar 14 354.0° 11:36 08.5° 22.4 <2 0100 13
Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) Mar 20-Mar 23 Mar 21 001.0° 17:34 01.5° 69.1 <2 0500 18
Zeta Cygnids (ZCY) Mar 22-Apr 10 Apr 06 016.0° 19:53 +40.0° 42.9 <2 0400 06
Delta Aquiliids (DAL) Apr 05-Apr 13 Apr 11 021.0° 20:37 +11.0° 66.0 <2 0400 11
Sigma Leonids A (SLE) Apr 08-Apr 16 Apr 11 021.0° 13:12 +04.5° 22.4 <2 0100 11
IMO #59 Apr 13-Apr 19 Apr 16 026.0° 19:27 +37.0° 44.5 <2 0400 16
Nu Cygnids (NCY) Apr 02-May 04 Apr 18 028.5° 20:42 +43.2° 43.8 <2 0400 18
Sigma Leonids B (SLE) Apr 18-Apr 26 Apr 20 030.0° 13:34 +03.5° 20.4 <2 0100 20
IMO #66 Apr 25-Apr 27 Apr 27 037.0° 21:11 -04.0° 64.6 <2 0100 26
Alpha Bootids (ABO) Apr 27-Apr 27 Apr 27 037.0° 13:50 +18.2° 71.0 <2 0100 26
IMO #79 May 25-May 29 May 26 065.0° 23:29 +06.5° 68.5 <2 0400 26
Daytime Arietids (ARI) Jun 05-Jun 09 Jun 07 077.0° 02:10 +23.5° 43.0 <2 0400 09
Sigma Capricornids (SCA) Jun 19-Jul 24 Jun 27 096.0° 20:25 -07.0° 41.7 <2 0400 28
IMO #95 Jun 27-Jul 07 Jun 29 098.0° 16:50 +55.5° 22.6 <2 0000 01
Pi Piscids (PPS) Jun 10-Jul 25 Jul 01 100.0° 00:55 +25.0° 68.6 <2 0400 03
IMO #94 Jun 29-Jul 04 Jul 03 102.0° 23:42 +29.0° 68.1 <2 0400 05
July Pegasids (JPE) Jul 05-Jul 25 Jul 10 108.0° 23:12 +11.0° 68.1 <2 0400 12
c-Andromedids (CAN) Jun 26-Jul 20 Jul 12 110.0° 02:10 +47.5° 60.1 <2 0400 14
Alpha Triangulids (ATR) Jul 25-Aug 20 Jul 27 124.0° 02:07 +41.0° 67.9 <2 0400 00
July Gamma Draconids (GDR) Jul 25-Jul 29 Jul 28 125.0° 18:42 +50.5° 26.5 <2 0000 01
Eta Eridanids (ERI) Jul 31-Aug 17 Aug 04 132.0° 02:53 -13.0° 66.2 <2 0400 07
IMO #125 Aug 07-Aug 09 Aug 08 135.0° 00:15 +49.0° 55.5 <2 0400 11
Theta Piscids (TPI) Aug 08-Sep 01 Aug 20 147.0° 23:28 04.1° 40.6 <2 0400 24
IMO #139 Aug 23-Aug 27 Aug 24 151.0° 04:01 +41.0° 68.9 <2 0400 28
IMO #136 Aug 18-Aug 25 Aug 25 152.0° 02:20 +38.0° 45.5 <2 0400 00
IMO #141 Aug 26-Sep 03 Aug 29 155.0° 00:08 +76.0° 58.5 <2 0300 03
IMO #149 Aug 29-Sep 09 Sep 03 160.0° 04:47 +47.5° 69.7 <2 0400 08
September Lyncids (SLY) Sep 07-Sep 18 Sep 09 167.0° 06:22 +55.7° 59.7 <2 0500 14
Nu Eridanids (NUE) Sep 18-Sep 24 Sep 18 175.0° 04:56 03.5° 68.8 <2 0500 23
Beta Aurigids (BAU) Sep 21-Sep 25 Sep 23 180.0° 05:50 +49.0° 70.2 <2 0500 28
IMO #166 Sep 19-Sep 29 Sep 24 181.0° 17:52 +84.0° 37.8 <2 2000 00
Delta Aurigids (DAU) Sep 25-Sep 30 Sep 25 182.0° 02:27 +57.5° 63.0 <2 0500 01
Sep-Oct Lyncids (SOL) Sep 28-Sep 30 Sep 30 187.0° 07:26 +47.0° 67.0 <2 0500 06
October Camelopardalids (OCT) Oct 05-Oct 06 Oct 06 192.6° 11:12 +78.5° 44.0 <2 0500 12
October Ursa Majorids (OCU) Oct 15-Oct 19 Oct 15 202.0° 09:36 +64.5° 53.7 <2 0500 21
Psi Aurigids (ZTA) Oct 08-Oct 18 Oct 15 202.0° 07:19 +42.0° 67.9 <2 0500 21
Tau Cancrids (TCA) Oct 09-Oct 25 Oct 17 206.0° 08:57 +29.4° 68.7 <2 0500 23
Lambda Ursa Majorids (LUM) Oct 24-Nov 01 Oct 27 214.0° 10:24 +48.9° 61.5 <2 0500 03
Zeta Cancrids (ZCN) Nov 04-Nov 09 Nov 07 225.0° 07:22 13.5° 70.7 <2 0500 15
Nov. Iota Draconids (NID) Nov 22-Dec 01 Nov 26 232.0° 12:42 55.5° 44.4 <2 0500 04
Dec. Phi Cassiopeiids (DPC) Nov 26-Dec 05 Dec 01 249.0° 12:22 52.6° 17.8 <2 0500 09
December Kappa Draconids (KDR) Dec 02-Dec 06 Dec 03 251.0° 12:22 +70.5° 43.0 <2 0500 11
Psi Ursa Majorids (PSU) Dec 01-Dec 08 Dec 04 252.0° 11:10 +43.0° 62.2 <2 0500 12
Alpha Draconids A (DAD) Dec 03-Dec 14 Dec 04 252.0° 13:34 +58.0° 43.6 <2 0500 12
December Chi Virginids (XVI) Dec 16-Dec 24 Dec 18 266.0° 08:15 -10.5° 69.8 <2 0400 25
Dec. Sigma Virginids (DSV) Dec 17-Dec 28 Dec 25 273.0° 13:55 +03.5° 68.9 <2 0500 04
Alpha Draconids B (DAD) Dec 26-Jan 01 Dec 29 278.0° 15:18 +53.5° 43.0 <2 0500 08
Alpha Hydrids (AHY) Dec 27-Jan 08 Dec 31 280.0° 08:24 -07.9° 45.0 <2 0100 10

Information and Table Template Courtesy the International Meteor Organization.

The meteor showers listed above rarely produce an average of more than two shower members per hour. In some cases these showers have been recently discovered by video means, being too weak for visual observers to pick out from the sporadic background. This list is being provided for the experienced observer in order to verify the activity of these weak showers. Good luck with your observations in 2014!



Explanation of the 2014 Meteor Shower Calendar

Shower: named for the constellation or closest star within a constellation where the radiant is located at maximum activity.

Activity Period: the dates when the shower is active and the observer can expect activity from this source.

Maximum: the date on which the maximum activity is expected to occur.

S.L.: the equivalent solar longitude of the date of maximum activity. Solar longitude is measured in degrees (0-359) with 0 occurring at the exact moment of the spring equinox, 90 at the summer solstice, 180 at the autumnal equinox, and 270 at the winter solstice. Scientists use this time measurement as it is independent of the calendar.

Radiant: the area in the sky where shower meteors seem to appear from. This position is given in right ascension (celestial longitude) and declination (celestial latitude). The radiant must be near or above the horizon in order to witness activity from a particular shower.

Velocity: the velocity at which shower meteors strike the Earth's atmosphere. The velocity depends on the angle meteoroids (meteors in space) intersect the Earth. Meteoroids orbiting in the opposite direction of the Earth and striking the atmosphere head-on are much faster than those orbiting in the same direction as the Earth. This velocity is measured in kilometers per second.

r: The Population Index, An estimate of the ratio of the number of meteors in subsequent magnitude classes. Simply stated: the lower the "r" value, the resulting overall mean magnitude of each shower will be brighter. "r" usually ranges from 2.0 (bright) to 3.5 (faint).

ZHR: Zenith Hourly Rate, the average maximum number of shower meteors visible per hour if the radiant is located exactly overhead and the limiting magnitude equals +6.5 (A very dark sky). Actual counts rarely reach this figure as the zenith angle of the radiant is usually less and the limiting magnitude is usually lower. ZHR is a useful tool when comparing the actual observed rates between individual observers as it sets observing conditions for all to the same standards.

Time: this is the time of night when meteors from each shower are best seen. Quite often the radiant will culminate after sunrise therefore the last dark hour before dawn will be listed. Daylight Saving Time (Summer Time) is used from March through October. These figures are also highly dependent on the latitude of the observer. The time listed is most precise for mid-northern latitudes.

Moon: the age of the moon in days where 0 is new, 7 is first quarter, 14 is full, and 21 is last quarter. Meteor activity is best seen in the absence of moonlight so showers reaching maximum activity when the moon is less than 10 days old or more than 25 are much more favorably observed than those situated closer to the full moon.

Class: A scale developed by Robert Lunsford to group meteor showers by their intensity:

Class I: the strongest annual showers with ZHR's normally ten or better.

Class II: reliable minor showers with ZHR's normally two or better.

Class III: showers that do not provide annual activity. These showers are rarely active yet have the potential to produce a major display on occasion.

Class IV: weak minor showers with ZHR's rarely exceeding two. The study of these showers is best left to experienced observers who use plotting and angular velocity estimates to determine shower association. Observers with less experience are urged to limit their shower associations to showers with a rating of I to III. These showers are also good targets for video and photographic work.


Comments and Questions may be directed to the Meteors Section Coordinator: Robert Lunsford


Last Modified: January 20, 2014