Jan 27/28/29/30/31 Meteors and the Alpha Centaurids

Rates have been fairly constant over the past week. For the SALSA camera in Tucson, about 15 meteors, give or take a few, are being detected each night. Bob’s camera in Tucson is more sensitive and can detect fainter meteors. His camera is picking up ~30 meteors per night.

The Alpha Centaurids (ACE) are now active. This minor shower is best seen from the Southern Hemisphere and in fact is barely above the southern horizon from Tucson and San Diego. For observers north of ~+32N, the radiant never rises above the horizon. It is interesting that both cameras have been detecting 1-2 ACEs nearly every night. This suggests that the shower is more active than usual. So far there have been no reports of elevated activity from observers down south. It is also possible that the meteors being reported as ACEs are just Sporadics that happen to line up with the ACE radiant. The rather large number of ACEs detected in such a short period of time (the ACE radiant is only above the horizon for an hour or so per night) makes me wonder if the Alpha Centaurids are more active than usual.

The Alpha Centaurids appear to radiate from a point near the star Alpha Centauri, hence the name Alpha Centaurids. If that star sounds familiar, it is the nearest stellar (star) system to the Sun. The meteors don’t actually come from Alpha Centauri, they come from an unknown comet. The shower is part of a complex of southern showers that are active from November through March. The Puppid/Velids of December are also part of this complex.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ACE
TUS  2009-01-31  11h 41m  14  12  1   1
SDG  2009-01-31  10h 40m  42  35  5   2
TUS  2009-01-30  11h 36m  18  15  3   0
SDG  2009-01-30  11h 18m  33  27  4   2
TUS  2009-01-29  09h 17m  15  13  2   0
SDG  2009-01-29  11h 37m  33  28  4   1
TUS  2009-01-28  11h 32m  15  14  0   1
SDG  2009-01-28  09h 53m  26  25  1   0

TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
ACE – Alpha Centaurids


  1. I’m in central Illinois I was traveling south on I55 between Lincoln and Springfield about 10:35 to 11:00pm on Jan 28th 2009. All the sudden a large green and white light streaked across the sky just east off I55 traveling paralel to the highway and going south. This was way too fast to be anything man made and extremely bright. Im hopping a metor shower it what it was as explained by this website.

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