Meteor Section        

 
 

November 18, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on: Meteor Activity Outlook for November 19-25, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 
Paul Sutherland captured this Leonid fireball from Walmer, Kent, England, on 19 November 2017 at 02h29m09s UT. The path leads back to the radiant, located in the “Sickle of Leo”. The colors are actually produced by the meteor passing though the air and ionizing the oxygen and nitrogen molecules. © Paul Sutherland .

The Leonids are remnants of comet 55P Tempel-Tuttle, which last passed through the inner solar system in 1998. The comet has just passed its farthest point from the sun and is now on its inbound leg of its journey around the sun. It is expected to be closest to the sun again in 2031. The comet has completed so many trips around the sun that remnants are encountered on Earth every November, regardless of the position of the comet. Each journey around the sun produces its own unique path and the Earth often passes close to this paths each year. In 2022, the nodal crossing occurs near 23:00 universal time (UT) on November 17th. This is when the Earth passes closest to the core of the many debris streams. This is normally when maximum activity occurs with rates usually around 15 Leonids per hour seen during the latter half of the morning. In addition to the nodal crossing, the Earth is predicted to pass close to the path created in the year 1733 between 06:00 and 06:30 UT on November 19th. This corresponds to 1:00-1:30am EST on Saturday morning November 19th. An increase of bright Leonid activity may occur in this time span, which is favorable for viewers located in the eastern half of North America and most of South America. Some excessive rates have been quoted in other journals, but the true strength of this possible outburst is unknown. The length of the possible outburst is also unknown. It may be only a few minutes long as the Earth passes quickly though these debris fields. Two weaker encounters are also predicted at 7:00 UT on November 18th (2:00am EST) and at 15:00 UT on November 21st.*

The source (radiant) of the Leonid meteors lies in the “sickle” of Leo near the star named Algieba (gamma Leonis). This area of the sky rises in the east between 23:00 and midnight for most of the world. Therefore no Leonid meteors may be seen during the early evening hours when the source lies far below the horizon. As the midnight hour approaches some Leonid activity may be seen shooting upwards from the eastern horizon. The best views of this display occurs during the last two hours prior to dawn when the source lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky. Leonid meteors may be seen in any portion of the sky but it would be wise to concentrate your view in the eastern half where Leonid meteors can be seen shooting in all directions. Luckily, the Leonid meteors may be seen in both hemispheres but the northern hemisphere is favored by the source being located higher in the sky and a longer night this time of year. In 2022, the moon will be a waning crescent phase, not far from the radiant. This positioning will make it difficult to see any faint Leonids. It may be best to face halfway up in the southern sky if the moon lies above the horizon. If the moon has not risen, then facing eastward is recommended.

Viewing meteor activity is a great way to easily contribute to science by being a citizen scientist. In order to produce scientifically useful data it is suggested to view for at least one hour and provide shower associations with each meteor you witness. The reason for this is to allow your eyes to become accustomed to the darkness. The longer viewing sessions also allows you to witness the peaks and valleys of meteor activity, as meteors seem to appear in spurts and are not constant. It also is necessary to provide us with the magnitude of the faintest star you can see so that we can determine the darkness of your sky. This allows us to make adjustments so that all observations can be directly compared to one another. Making magnitude estimates is easily done by counting the number of stars visible within certain areas of the sky – see also https://www.imo.net/observations/methods/visual-observation/ and here for more tips on viewing meteor showers. In order to share your observations we suggest that you fill out a visual meteor report form provided by the International Meteor Organization. You must register to provide your data, but there is a free option for those not wishing to subscribe to the IMO Journal. We wish you good luck and look forward to seeing your viewing results!

*Reference: 2022 Meteor Shower Calendar By Juergen Rendtel, pages 17-18. https://www.imo.net/files/meteor-shower/cal2022.pdf

 
 

November 11, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on:  Meteor Activity Outlook for November 12-18, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 

November 4, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on: Meteor Activity Outlook for November 5-11, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 

October 28, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on:   Meteor Activity Outlook for October 29-November 4, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 
This Taurid fireball, shooting between the bright stars Regulus and Alphard,  was captured by the author on 3 November 2021 using an AllSky6 Meteor Camera System. Courtesy University of Arizona.

The annual Taurid meteor shower usually does not inspire too much excitement as each branch (North & South) rarely produce more than 5 shower members per hour at maximum. They are usually in the background for those viewing the more potent Orionid meteor shower, providing a few nice slow meteors in contrast to the swift Orionids. This year could be different though as the southern branch of the Taurids is predicted to produce an increasing number of meteors this year. Astronomers who have studied the Taurid activity have noticed that every 3 or 7 years, the Southern Taurids display an increase in activity along with an increase in production of fireballs, which are meteors that are brighter than every celestial object except the sun and moon. The last “swarm” occurred in 2015, in which observers reported double the normal Southern Taurid rates and a larger portion of fireballs.

Despite cloudy skies this monster Taurid fireball was photographed by Andy Howell on 9 November 2015 from  Newberry, FL, USA. © Andy Howell 

The Southern Taurids are active from September 28 through December 2nd. Maximum activity occurs on November 5th, but this is not a sharp peak. Good activity can be observed for roughly two weeks centered on November 5th. In 2022, the full moon occurs on November 8th so the post maximum period will be severely hampered by bright moonlight. The moon will not obscure fireballs, but the normal meteors will be lost in the bright moonlight. Only the last hour or two will be free of moonlight on November 5th. The radiant, which is the area of the sky in which these meteors seem to shoot forth from, is located in western Taurus in early November. The radiant moves just under one degree eastward each night and slightly northward. If you view the Taurids in October, the radiant will actually be  located in eastern Aries. Each night past the maximum the radiant will inch closer to the familiar “V” shaped asterism of Taurus.

The term “swarm” usually applies to just the fireballs, but in this case there is an increase to overall activity. Fireballs are caused by meteors that are larger than normal. Normal meteors are produced by pea-sized pebbles and bits of ice. A meteor the size of a softball can produce a sudden flash as bright as the full moon. Some of these larger meteoroids (meteors still out in space) have been concentrated in areas of their orbit that passed close to the planet Jupiter. When the Earth passes close enough to this concentration we will see elevated fireball activity. Just how elevated is just a guess, but one can be certain that the wait between individual fireballs will be far less than the average wait of 20 hours that occurs during most of the year.

Now a meteor shower that produces 10 shower members per hour is nothing to shout about. That’s only an average of one meteor every 6 minutes. And they will not appear every 6 minutes. You may go 15 minutes without seeing any Taurids and then see 3 within a minute or two. That’s just the nature of all meteor showers! As seen from the Northern Hemisphere, the Taurids are active all night long. During the evening hours the radiant is located in the eastern sky so face that direction if you observe prior to midnight. At 2:00am local daylight saving time (1:00 local standard time) the radiant is located high in the southern sky. As the morning hours progress the radiant sets into the western sky. The best time to view the Taurids is when it is located highest in the sky near 2:00am (LDST). These meteors are also visible from most of the Southern Hemisphere. But from south of the equator the radiant does not rise as high in the sky as seen from northern locations so rates will be lower compared to the north. Since the meteors appear in “spurts”, it is advisable to watch for at least an hour to get a true picture of the overall activity. To watch for this long we advise observers to use a comfortable lounge chair with a pillow and blanket. Being cold is no fun while out under the stars! If the moon is in the sky be certain to face away from it to preserve your night vision.

Position of both Southern & Northern Taurids radiant on November 8th.

Regardless of moonlight, this is a good opportunity to capture bright meteors using SLR cameras or low light video cameras. While these instruments lack the wide field of view of the human eye, they don’t tire from observing hours on end. For those using SLR cameras, it is suggested to aim you camera so that the lower edge of the field of view lies just above the horizon. The reasoning behind this is that the lower half of the sky presents a thicker slice of atmosphere, thus producing more meteors than seen straight up. The thin atmosphere near the zenith is great for telescopic viewers but not for meteor activity. You will need to experiment with the camera settings so not to overexpose the night sky. It is also advisable to use a motor driven mount so that stars will not trail in the photograph. Trailing stars are fine if you have just a simple tripod and just wish to catch a fireball. But photos with a natural sky and a blazing fireball is often more aesthetic. Also but prepared for dew by using heaters or hand warmers attached to the camera lens.

Viewing meteor activity is a great way to easily contribute to science by being a citizen scientist. In order to produce scientifically useful data you should view for at least one hour and provide shower associations (STA, ORI, SPO, etc) with each meteor you witness. It also is necessary to provide us with the magnitude of the faintest star you can see so that we can determine the conditions you are viewing under. This is easily done by counting the number of stars visible within certain areas of the sky – see also https://www.imo.net/observations/methods/visual-observation/ and here for more tips on viewing meteor showers. In order to share your observations it is suggest that you to fill out a visual meteor report form from the International Meteor Organization. This is only available to registered members, but this option is free to those who just wish to contribute data. Besides it creates an observing log for yourself that you can add to session after session. We strongly encourage everyone to join the IMO as a full member as detailed analysis of the Taurids and others meteors showers is presented in the IMO Journal. Lastly, be sure to share your fireball experiences with us by filling out a fireball report form. It’s easy and fun and combined with other witnesses, allows you to see the trajectory of the fireball along with photos and videos if available.

The next Taurid swarm is predicted in 2025 and will most likely be weaker than 2022, especially since a full moon occurs on the night of maximum activity! Beyond that, 2032 appears to be an exceptional year as the moon will be new on November 2nd and the Earth will pass very close to the center of the swarm that year. Mark your calendar now ;-)

We wish you good luck and look forward to seeing your viewing results!

References

Auriane Egal, Peter G. Brown, Paul Wiegert, Yung Kipreos, (2022). “An observational synthesis of the Taurid meteor complex”. MNRAS 2022.

 
 

October 21, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on:  Meteor Activity Outlook for October 22-28, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 

October 14, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on:  Meteor Activity Outlook for October 15-21, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

 
 

Each October the Earth passes through the inbound debris of Halley’s Comet to produce the Orionid Meteor Shower. The outbound activity is seen in April and May of each year as the eta Aquariid meteor shower. Orionid activity is usually low until mid-October, when we pass closer to the core of these orbits. The Orionids are a medium strength shower, usually producing 15-20 showers members per hour at maximum as seen from dark sky locations. There have been surprises in the past when rates were three times this strong. Such strong activity is not expected this year, but only by observing this activity will we know for certain what occurs.

This year the maximum activity is predicted to occur on the morning of October 21st, when up to 20 swift Orionid meteors should be visible per hour from rural locations away from city lights. Orionid meteors are not visible until after 22:00 (10pm) local daylight saving time as the source of these meteors does not rise above the eastern horizon until then. The best time to see these meteors is from 01:00 to dawn, when the Orionid radiant lies in excess of 30 degrees above the horizon. At the time of maximum activity the source of these meteors lies just east of the faint club of Orion. This position also lies about 10 degrees northeast of the bright orange star known as Betelgeuse (alpha Orionis). 10 degrees is equal to one’s fist with your arm held straight out.

The bright moon often interferes with viewing meteor activity by obscuring the fainter meteors. We will not encounter any such problems this year as the moon will reach its last quarter phase on October 17th and will become less of a problem with each passing night as it approaches its new phase on the 25th. On the morning of maximum activity the moon will be 15-20 percent illuminated and far to the east of the radiant. If you find the crescent moon distracting you can always change directions you are facing so that it will not lie within your field of view. With the moon out of the way the only things that would stop you from seeing the show would be clouds and bright city lights. There is not much can do about cloud cover other than checking at later times during the morning. If the entire night is lost to clouds you can try again on the next night as Orionid activity will be almost as strong on the night of October 21/22. In fact the Orionids are strong for several night surrounding October 21st, so if the night of maximum is predicted to be cloudy, you can still witness good rates just before and after the maximum. As for bright city lights, it is highly recommended that you find a safe rural observing spot away from city lights as the more stars you can see, the more meteors you will count.

The best way to see these meteors is to lie in a comfortable lounge chair with the back angled so that you are looking about half-way up in the sky. You can look straight up if your sky near the horizon is brightly lit, but more meteors are seen in the lower half of the sky than straight up as you are looking through a much thicker column of the atmosphere. I would recommend facing due south so that you can also distinguish minor meteor activity that is coming from Taurus, Gemini, and Leo Minor. Taurid meteors would be slower than the Orionids while those from Gemini and Leo Minor would also be swift, like the Orionids. These minor showers usually only produce about 2 meteors per hour at best. There are also random meteors that do not belong to any recognizable source. On October mornings these random meteors normally usually number about 10 per hour. One bonus this year is that we are expecting more fireball activity from the Taurids this year. So also be on the lookout for bright, slow moving meteors from an area west of Orion near the constellations of Aries and Taurus. It should be mentioned that the Orionids and the other minor showers are all visible from the Southern Hemisphere, but at lower elevations in their northern sky.

Composite of the 2009 Orionids – Image credit: NASA/MSFC (special thanks to NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.)

Viewing meteor activity is a great way to easily contribute to science by being a citizen scientist. In order to produce scientifically useful data you need to view for at least one hour and provide shower associations with each meteor you witness. It also is necessary to provide us with the magnitude of the faintest star you can see. This is easily done by counting the number of stars visible with certain areas of the sky – see also https://www.imo.net/observations/methods/visual-observation/ and here for more tips on viewing meteor showers. In order to share your observations it is suggest that you to fill out a visual meteor report form from the International Meteor Organization. This is only available to registered members, but this option is free to those who just wish to contribute data. Those who do share their data with the IMO will see their data included in their worldwide analysis. Of course we also accept data mailed directly the the ALPO Meteors Section Recorder.

We wish you good luck and look forward to seeing your viewing results!

 
 

October 7, 2022

This post discusses the expected meteor activity and lunar conditions for the upcoming week. It is focused on North American latitudes but may be used in all locations. Sky charts displaying current radiant positions are provided for early evening hours, mid-night, and the hour prior to dawn. European readers may wish to use the charts in the same article at www.imo.net for better accuracy.

To access the meteor activity outlook click on:  Meteor Activity Outlook October 8-14, 2022

We welcome hourly reports on meteor activity at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Reports of individual fireballs should be filled out at: https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro/

Meteor Activity Outlooks for observers in the southern hemisphere are available upon request at: lunro.imo.usa@cox.net

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

ALPO Meteors Section Coordinator

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