Feb 1/2 Meteors

The past few nights have seen wild swings in meteor rates at our two camera locations in Tucson and San Diego. The San Diego camera saw strong rates on the night of Jan 30/31.

Bob’s notes from Jan 30/31: “This session produced the strongest rates since January 5th. The 42 meteors recorded is a 25% increase over the previous night. A quick check of the plots for the night revealed a possible radiant near the constellation of Corvus that produced 5 meteors. This could be related to the February Sextantids, which where discovered by Sirko Molau, during his 2006 investigation of possible video radiants. It will be interesting to see if any more of this activity is repeated tonight.”

In Tucson nothing unusual was noted and rates were normal. But on the next night (Jan 31/Feb 1) the Tucson system recorded its highest number of meteors since the Quadrantid peak on Jan 2/3. Five or six of the meteors appeared to come from a diffuse radiant in the constellation of Libra. But in San Diego, Bob’s camera detected a normal number of meteors.

Bob’s notes from Jan 31/Feb 1: “Whatever caused the increased rates on the previous night was not evident tonight as only 24 meteors were recorded. Fog rolled in shortly after dark but never totally obscured the sky. As the evening progressed an offshore wind flow pushed the fog back out to sea and the skies remained clear the remainder of the night. Since the fog occurred during the early evening hours, when meteor rates are at their lowest, it cannot be responsible for the low rates seen tonight.”

Last night (Feb 1/2) both camera systems recorded very few meteors. Though my camera had a late start due to my preoccupation with the Super Bowl, the missed early evening hours should not have produced too many meteors.

Bob’s notes from Feb 1/2: “The Earth must have been traveling through some empty space last night as only 16 meteors were recorded. This is the lowest total I can recall for an all night session without interference from clouds.”

Amazingly, the Alpha Centaurid shower continues to produce detectable meteors every night. Since this shower is only visible (only barely visible at that) for an hour every night, really shouldn’t be seeing any meteors from this shower.

Obs  Date (UT)   TotTime TOT SPO ANT ACE
TUS  2009-02-02  08h 57m  8   7   0   1
SDG  2009-02-02  10h 33m  16  15  0   1
TUS  2009-02-01  11h 32m  20  19  1   0
SDG  2009-02-01  11h 20m  24  21  2   1

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