Sept 18/19th Meteors

Observing conditions were fairly good last night, though some clouds moved through during the hours right before dawn.

Last night saw my first detection of a possible Delta Aurigid. I say possible because there is evidence that this shower should not even be active till next month. So what was this particular meteor? Data from decades of naked eye observers suggest that both the September Perseids and the Delta Aurigids are active, though at very low levels. Since both showers radiate from the same part of the sky, my camera cannot differentiate between them. To do that requires calculating the orbit of the meteor which needs observations from at least 2 cameras separated by 50-100 miles.

The other possibility is that the meteor is not related to either shower and is just a background Sporadic. Video data over the past few years suggest that neither shower should have been active last night. One of the reasons why a large number of amateurs and I are operating cameras every night is find answers to questions like these.

Date                     TotalTime      TOT    SPO     ANT     DAU

2008-09-19 UT     9h 34m        16      12        3         1

TOT – total # of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions (meteors coming from the opposition region, opposite the direction of the Sun)
DAU – δ-Aurigids (Delta Aurigids)


  1. yo me and my bro and freinds were fishing in escondido california and saw 2 meteors really close and saw it disinagrating like 1 rock was behind it and the main rock in front while a very small one below. it was about 11:11 the main one then at 11:13 we saw a smaller one in the sky. i didn’t hear of any meteor showers tonight wahts up

  2. We saw the same one too! What was that? there is no info in the paper (we are in palm desert, ca) and it was HUGE!

  3. Saw two fireballs in the sky on 9/19/08 at about 11:15pm. Never seen anything like that before in my life. Made an explosion sound, thought it was a plane crash. I saw this in los angeles ca 90019.

  4. Hello everyone, it definitely sounds like there was a bright meteor over southern California on the 19th. I haven’t been able to find any reports of it in the news or by other astronomers. Unfortunately it was too far away for my camera in Tucson to pick it up.

    It was either one of two things, a small rock burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere or a piece of man-made space junk (part of an old satellite or rocket booster) re-entering the atmosphere. Quite often big meteors or re-entering satellites will break up into smaller pieces and look like multiple meteors. Usually the big one is in front with smaller ones trailing behind it.

    I’ll keep looking for more info about this and I’ll post anything I find. Thanks for the reports.

  5. I did in fact see it from my home in Placentia. What other reports say saw coincides with exactly what I saw from my backyard. Unfortunately I wasn’t shooting images at that section of the sky so no photos, sorry.

    As for the details of what I saw, here they are:

    Approx. 11:00pm PDT on Fri. Night 9/19/08 I saw a bright yellow-orange meteor going from N to NNE (from around the area of Ursa Minor (approx 30-32 degrees elevation) to the area around Mirfak in Perseus. It went from 1 streak to forming a Y shape when it appeared to break into two parts around Camelopardalis. It had a fuzzy type trail.

    I was rather surprised to see so bright a meteor in the middle of light pollution like I have.

    It was very cool.

  6. Four of us saw it that night too, it was my husband 50th Birthday that night…Talk about the big one!!! We were in Canyon Lake, CA. What totally sucks is that I was in such awe, I forgot for a minute that I had my camera in my pocket but I didn’t get it out in time.

  7. On Friday evening (09/19/08) I was outside with my Meade telescope viewing the night sky’s star clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy. At approx. 11:10PM I happened to be simply looking at the sky without the telescope….surveying all the stars that I could see and suddenly there was an orange ball flashing across the sky.

    It appeared to go West to East across the sky in the vicinity of Polaris….I live in Dana Point and as the ball crossed the sky it broke apart into 2-3 smaller pieces…yet I was unable to see the end of it’s life as it went behind a small hill to the east of my location.

    It seemed very close and was larger than meteorites that I have seen before. The orange color indicates it is close to earth? It looked like it would land in the local area as it flew by yet I’m sure it likely crossed into Arizona or New Mexico or burned up before contact with the ground.

    Within a minute or so another orange flash burst only this time it was shorter and running perpendicular to the first one…heading from the North direction down to the hill …..very interesting sights…I felt I witnessed a special moment.

    I have no idea how far these flashes travel before burning up or hitting the ground…. If I held my hand up in the sky I would say the first flash that I viewed traveled about 5 or 6 widths of my hand across the sky before I lost sight of it behind the small hill.

    I contributed comments to the Sciencedude blog…link here:

  8. On September 19th my husband and I were outside on our deck here in Canyon Lake CA facing West toward Lake Elsinore, I saw this red light in the far distance coming over the mountain thinking wow what a fast plane, then if just seconds it was right in front of us streaking so fast I ran to the side of the house just in enough time to see it blow up into four peices, that was so amazing, I couldnt believe how low it was and how far and fast it was traveling.

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