Meteor Section        

 
 

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.

leonids100_am

 

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 several fold. 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).

Bolidetotfr


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 55 cents per issue). To subscribe contact our section coordinator Robert Lunsford.


 

 

                                                            2019 Meteor Shower List


The 2019 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.


 

                                                   2019 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) Dec 22-Jan 17 Jan 04 283.16° 15:21 +49.5° 40.7 2.1 120 0500 29
Lyrids (LYR) Apr 14-Apr 30 Apr 23 032.3° 18:09 +33.4° 45.5 2.1 18 0400 19
eta Aquarids (ETA) Apr 17-May 24 May 07 046.2° 22:32 -00.8° 65.7 2.4 60 0400 03
Southern delta Aquarids (SDA) Jul 21-Aug 23 Jul 30 126.9° 22:42 -16.4° 41.3 3.2 20 0300 28
Perseids (PER) Jul 17-Sep 01 Aug 13 140.0° 03:13 +58.1° 59.1 2.6 100 0400 13
Orionids (ORI) Sep 23-Nov 27 Oct 22 208.9° 06:24 +15.7° 66.3 2.5 23 0500 23
Leonids (LEO) Nov 02-Nov 30 Nov 18 236° 10:15 +21.8° 70.2 2.5 15 0500 21
Geminids (GEM) Dec 01-Dec 22 Dec 14 262°2 07:33 +32.4° 33.7 2.6 120 0100 17
Ursids (URS) Dec 19-Dec 24 Dec 22 270°1 14:40 +75.4° 32.9 3.0 10 0500 24

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. 


 

                                                       2019 Minor Meteor Showers (Class II)

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity r Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
Anthelion Source (ANT) Dec 25-Sep 23 - - - - 30.0 3.0 3 0100 -
Coma Berenicids (COM) Dec 24-Jan 04 Jan 01 280° 12:22 +11.7° 69.7 3.0 5 0500 26
alpha Centaurids (ACE) Feb 02-Feb 19 Feb 08 319°4 14:04 -58.2° 59.3 2.0 6 0500 04
eta Lyrids (ELY) May 06-May 13 May 11 050° 19:20 +43.4° 43.7 3.0 3 0400 07
alpha Capricornids (CAP) Jul 03-Aug 11 Jul 27 124° 20:14 -10.0° 22.2 2.5 4 0100 25
Piscis Austrinids (PAU) Jul 30-Aug 18 Aug 09 136° 22:44 -20.5° 43.9 3.0 5 0300 09
kappa Cygnids (KCG) Aug 08-Aug 17 Aug 14 141° 18:30 +52.8° 20.9 3.0 3 2300 14
Aurigids (AUR) Aug 18-Sep 07 Sep 01 158°6 06:04 +38.6° 65.6 2.6 6 0400 02
September epsilon Perseids (SPR) Sep 03-Oct 03 Sep 11 168° 03:15 +39.7° 64.8 2.9 5 0500 13
epsilon Geminids (EGE) Sep 30-Oct 25 Oct 11 198° 06:15 +28.1° 69.6 3.0 2 0400 13
Leonis Minorids (LMI) Oct 12-Nov 05 Oct 23 209° 10:40 +36.6° 61.9 2.7 2 0500 24
Southern Taurids (STA) Sep 23-Dec 24 Oct 30 216° 03:12 +12.8° 26.6 2.3 5 0000 02
Northern Taurids (NTA) Oct 24-Dec 19 Nov 03 220° 03:16 +20.7° 28.0 2.3 5 0000 06
November Orionids (NOO) Nov 07-Dec 17 Nov 29 247° 06:02 +15.2° 42.5 2.3 3 0400 03
sigma Hydrids (HYD) Nov 24-Dec 21 Dec 06 254° 08:16 +02.7° 60.7 2.3 3 0300 09
Puppid/Velids (PUP) Dec 01-Dec 15 Dec 07 255° 08:12 -45.0° 40.0 2.7 10 0400 10
Monocerotids (MON) Nov 28-Dec 27 Dec 13 261° 06:52 +07.8° 41.4 2.3 2 0100 16
December Leonis Minorids (DLE) Dec 06-Jan 18 Dec 21 269° 10:50 +30.0° 63.1 2.3 5 0500 23

 

Information and Table Template Courtesy the International Meteor Organization.

The meteor showers listed above range from 2 to 10 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.


                                                 2019 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 16-Apr 30 Apr 24 033.6° 07:22 -45.1° 15 2.0 var 1900 20
tau Herculids (TAH) May 19- Jun 14 Jun 03 072.0° 15:14 +39.8° 15 2.2 var 0000 00
June Bootids (JBO) Jun 23- Jun 25 Jun 24 092.5° 14:58 +48° 13 2.2 var 2100 21
beta Hydusids (BHY) Aug 15-Aug 19 Aug 17 143.8° 02:25 -74.5° 23 2.6 var 0500 17
Draconids (GIA) Oct 08-Oct 09 Oct 08 195.0° 17:32 +56° 21 2.6 var 1800 10
alpha Monocerotids (AMO) Nov 21-Nov 23 Nov 22 239°32 07:47 +01° 63 2.4 var 0300 25
Dec Phoenicids (PHO) Dec 04-Dec 06 Dec 05 253°0 01:02 -48° 12 2.8 var 2000 08

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.


 

                                                 2019 Weak Meteor Showers (Class IV)

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity Max. Time Moon
Date S. L. R.A. Dec. km/s ZHR
Coma Berenicids (COM) Dec 24-Jan 04 Jan 01 280.0° 12:22 +11.7° 69.7 <2 0500 26
January Leonids (JLE) Dec 30-Jan 07 Jan 03 283.0° 09:51 +24.1° 51.4 <2 0300 28
alpha Hydrids (AHY) Dec 17-Jan 17 Jan 03 283.0° 08:28 -08.7° 43.3 <2 0300 28
xi Coronae Borealids (XCB) Jan 13-Jan 20 Jan 16 296.0° 16:36 +30.0° 49.0 <2 0500 09
lambda Bootids (LBO) Dec 31-Jan 17 Jan 16 296.0° 14:46 +42.2° 40.7 <2 0500 09
gamma Ursae Minorids (GUM) Jan 09-Jan 20 Jan 18 298.0° 15:13 +69.2° 28.8 <2 0500 11
January xi Ursae Majorids (XUM) Jan 15-Jan 22 Jan 18 298.0° 11:15 +33.0° 40.9 <2 0300 11
eta Corvids (ECV) Jan 16-Jan 29 Jan 22 302.0° 12:49 -17.3° 68.1 <2 0500 16
January Comae Berenicids (JCO) Jan 21-Jan 26 Jan 24 304.0° 11:52 +15.0° 64.0 <2 0500 18
alpha Antliids (AAN) Jan 24-Feb 17 Feb 01 312.0° 10:29 -09.5° 45.0 <2 0100 27
February epsilon Virginids (FEV) Jan 27-Feb 17 Feb 03 314.0° 13:22 +11.0° 62.9 <2 0400 29
February eta Draconids (FED ) Feb 03-Feb 05 Feb 04 315.2° 15:58 +62.4° 35.1 <2 0500 00
Pi Hydrids (PIH) Feb 03-Feb 09 Feb 06 317.0° 14:00 -21.0° 55.3 <2 0400 02
omega Centaurids (OCA) Feb 12-Feb 15 Feb 14 325.2° 13:16 -55.0° 48.0 <2 0500 09
theta Centaurids (TCN) Feb 12-Feb 16 Feb 14 325.0° 13:56 -29.0° 65.0 <2 0500 09
Beta Herculids (BHE) Feb 13-Feb 16 Feb 14 325.0° 16:24 +25.0° 53.0 <2 0500 09
February mu Virginids (FMV) Feb 16-Mar 04 Feb 26 337.0° 16:12 -02.0° 62.0 <2 0400 20
xi Herculids (XHE) Mar 09-Mar 13 Mar 11 350.0° 17:04 +49.2° 35.2 <2 0400 04
Gamma Normids (GNO) Mar 23-Mar 28 Mar 25 004.0° 16:24 -51.0° 68.0 <2 0500 19
Zeta Cygnids (ZCY) Apr 03-Apr 10 Apr 06 016.0° 20:08 +40.0° 40.0 <2 0400 01
April rho Cygnids (ARC) Apr 26-May 04 Apr 28 038.0° 20:56 +46.6° 40.9 <2 0400 22
h-Virginids (HVI) Apr 20-May 04 Apr 30 040.0° 13:39 -11.5° 35.2 <2 0100 24
theta 2 Sagittariids (TTS) May 10-May 15 May 14 053.0° 20:04 -33.0° 67.0 <2 0400 10
Daytime Arietids (ARI) May 22-Jun 24 Jun 08 076.7° 02:56 +24.4° 41.1 <2 0400 05
June mu Cassiopeiids (JMC) May 18-Jun 15 Jun 08 077.0° 01:03 +55.4° 41.7 <2 0400 05
beta Equulids (BEQ) Jun 07-Jun 30 Jun 15 084.0° 20:04 +00.1° 33.2 <2 0400 13
Northern June Aquilids (NZC) Jun 05-Jul 22 Jul 03 101.0° 20:39 -05.3° 38.3 <2 0200 01
phi Piscids (PPS) Jun 08-Aug 02 Jul 05 103.0° 01:08 +25.0° 67.6 <2 0400 03
Southern June Aquilids (SZC) Jun 09-Jul 17 Jul 06 104.0° 21:17 -27.6° 39.2 <2 0200 04
c-Andromedids (CAN) Jun 26-Jul 27 Jul 09 107.0° 01:54 +47.7° 59.0 <2 0400 07
July Pegasids (JPE) Jul 03-Jul 23 Jul 10 108.0° 23:12 +11.0° 68.1 <2 0400 08
epsilon Pegasids (EPG) Jul 15-Jul 20 Jul 11 109.0° 22:01 +13.0° 28.4 <2 0400 09
July chi Arietids (JXA) Jul 02-Aug 01 Jul 13 111.0° 02:22 +08.8° 68.9 <2 0400 11
49 Andromedids (FAN) Jul 06-Aug 14 Jul 21 118.0° 01:41 +48.2° 60.2 <2 0400 19
psi Cassiopeiids (PCA) Jul 05-Aug 07 Jul 22 119.0° 02:20 +73.3° 42.0 <2 0400 20
July gamma Draconids (GDR) Jul 25-Jul 29 Jul 28 125.0° 18:42 +50.5° 26.5 <2 2200 26
Eta Eridanids (ERI) Jul 23-Sep 17 Aug 11 138.0° 02:56 -12.4° 64.5 <2 0400 11
August Draconids (AUD) Aug 13-Aug 19 Aug 16 143.0° 18:07 +58.9° 21.1 <2 2100 16
August Gamma Cepheids (AGC) Aug 19-Sep 07 Aug 29 155.7° 23:55 +76.3° 42.7 <2 0200 29
Daytime zeta Cancrids (ZCA) Aug 13-Sep 10 Sep 03 160.0° 09:04 +11.7° 42.1 <2 0500 04
chi Cygnids (CCY) Sep 08-Sep 17 Sep 14 170.8° 20:00 +31.0° 19.0 <2 2100 16
Nu Eridanids (NUE) Aug 23-Nov 16 Sep 24 181.0° 05:08 +06.4° 67.1 <2 0500 25
Daytime Sextantids (DSX) Sep 16-Oct 10 Sep 29 186.0° 10:16 -01.5° 32.9 <2 0500 1
October Capricornids (OCC) Sep 20-Oct 14 Oct 03 189.7° 20:12 -10.0° 10.0 <2 2100 5
October Camelopardalids (OCT) Oct 05-Oct 09 Oct 06 192.6° 11:08 +78.8° 46.6 <2 0500 8
October Ursae Majorids (OCU) Oct 14-Oct 16 Oct 15 202.0° 09:40 +64.8° 55.6 <2 0500 17
lambda Ursae Majorids (LUM) Oct 26-Oct 28 Oct 28 214.9° 10:31 +50.2° 60.9 <2 0500 00
chi Taurids (CTA) Oct 20-Nov 17 Nov 04 221.0° 04:12 +26.2° 41.1 <2 0300 7
Southern lambda Draconids (SLD) Nov 01-Nov 04 Nov 04 221.0° 10:48 +68.2° 49.1 <2 1900 7
Omicron Eridanids (OER) Oct 16-Nov 24 Nov 05 222.0° 03:36 -01.5° 29.1 <2 0100 8
Andromedids (AND) Oct 26-Nov 17 Nov 06 223.0° 01:23 +28.0° 18.2 <2 2200 9
kappa Ursae Majorids (KUM) Nov 03-Nov 10 Nov 08 225.0° 09:49 +45.0° 65.7 <2 0500 11
November theta Aurigids (THA) Nov 17-Dec 01 Nov 26 244.0° 06:22 +34.7° 32.5 <2 0500 00
December phi Cassiopeiids (DPC) Nov 28-Dec 10 Dec 04 252.0° 01:18 +57.7° 16.5 <2 2000 7
December Kappa Draconids (KDR) Dec 02-Dec 07 Dec 04 252.0° 12:29 +70.2° 43.8 <2 0500 7
Psi Ursa Majorids (PSU) Dec 02-Dec 10 Dec 05 253.0° 11:19 +42.4° 61.7 <2 0500 8
December alpha Draconids (DAD) Nov 30-Dec 15 Dec 08 256.0° 13:34 +58.0° 43.6 <2 0500 11
December sigma Virginids (DSV) Nov 30-Dec 31 Dec 14 261.8° 13:23 +05.8° 66.2 <2 0500 17
December chi Virginids (XVI) Dec 16-Dec 24 Dec 19 267.0° 12:54 -12.0° 69.1 <2 0500 22
c Velids (CVE) Dec 26-Dec 31 Dec 29 277.0° 09:03 -54.0° 39.0 <2 0200 3

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 follow the activity of these weak showers. Good luck with your observations in 2019!


Explanation of the 2019 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.


 

New Meteors Book by ALPO Meteors Recorder Robert Lunsford

 

The focus of this book is to introduce the novice to the art of meteor observing. It explains in straightforward language how best to view meteor activity under a variety of conditions, regardless of the observer’s location. The observing conditions for each meteor shower are vastly different from each of the Earth’s regions and this book would be valuable to any potential observer from Australia to Alaska. The calendar chapters list activity as it occurs throughout the year. The list is limited to showers that the amateur observer can actually see (some sources list radiants that are impossible to observe without photographic or video methods). Not only are the annual showers discussed, but the random sporadic meteor activity is also included for each region. This is important, as there are many more nights throughout the year when the sporadic background will provide more activity than that provided by the annual showers!…more on
http://springer.com/978-0-387-09460-1

Meteor Book

Additional On-Line Resources (Provided by the American Meteor Society)

 

 


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


Last Modified: January 26, 2019

 

 

 

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