Meteor Activity Outlook for November 6-12, 2010

The Meteor Activity Outlook is a weekly summary of expected meteor activity written by Robert Lunsford, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society and contributor to this blog. The original unedited version of this week’s Meteor Activity Outlook can be found at the American Meteor Society’s site.

As seen from the northern hemisphere, meteor rates continue to be strong in November. While no major activity is expected this month, the two Taurid radiants plus the Leonids keep the skies active. The addition of strong sporadic rates make November one of the better months to view meteor activity from north of the equator. Skies are fairly quiet as seen from the southern hemisphere this month. Activity from the three showers mentioned above may be seen from south of the equator, but the sporadic rates are much lower than those seen in the northern hemisphere.

During this period the moon reaches its new phase on Saturday November 6th. At this time the moon lies near the sun and cannot be seen at night. This will be the best time to view meteor activity this month. The Taurids will be producing many slow meteors all night long while the sporadic rates will also remain high. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near six from the northern hemisphere and four for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near twenty four from the northern hemisphere and fourteen as seen from the southern hemisphere. The actual rates will also depend on factors such as personal light and motion perception, local weather conditions, alertness and experience in watching meteor activity.

The radiant (the area of the sky where meteors appear to shoot from) positions and rates listed below are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning November 6/7. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period.

The following showers are expected to be active this week:

Andromedids (AND)

Sirko Molau and Juergen Rendtel’s studies of video radiants has revealed that activity from the famous Andromedid shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current
position of the large radiant is 01:27 (022) +27. This position lies in a sparse area of northeastern Pisces. The nearest bright star is third magnitude Alpha Trianguli, which lies five degrees to the northeast. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 12. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 (10pm) LST (Local Standard Time) when the radiant lies on the meridian. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor. Sirko mentions that these meteors are “conspicuously slow and of almost constant activity” during this period.

Northern Taurids (NTA)

The center of the large Northern Taurid (NTA) radiant lies at 03:38 (055) +22. This area of the sky is located in western Taurus, two degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades. These meteors are best seen near 0100 LST, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon. This shower peaks on November 13, so rates are slowly increasing. Current rates would be near three per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in November.

Southern Taurids (STA)

The center of the large Southern Taurid (STA) radiant lies at 03:42 (056) +14. This area of the sky is located in western Taurus, ten degrees south of the Pleiades. The radiant is also best placed near the meridian near 0100 LDT. We are now well past the October 10 maximum for this shower but rates will still remain near two per hour, no matter your location. Striking the atmosphere at 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor travels slowly through the skies. This shower is also responsible for many of the fireball reports seen in October.

Orionids (ORI)

The Orionids (ORI) reached maximum activity on October 22nd. Some activity may still be seen during the morning hours from a radiant located at 07:14 (109) +16. This position lies in southern Gemini, close to the faint magnitude star Lambda Geminorum. The radiant is best placed on the meridian near 0400 LDT. Current rates should be near two per hour no matter your location. At 67km/sec., the average Orionid is swift.

Leonids (LEO)

The Leonids (LEO) are just now coming to life from a radiant located at 09:50 (148) +25. This position lies in western Leo only one degree north of the third magnitude star Epsilon Leonis. Maximum activity is still more than a week away so current rates would most likely be less than one per hour. At 71km/sec., the average Leonid is swift with a high percentage of trains. These meteors are best seen during the last hour before the onset of morning twilight, when the radiant lies highest above the horizon in a dark sky.

Shower Name                 RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                         km/s   NH    SH
AND Andromedids           01h 27m  +27    19    <1    <1
NTA Northern Taurids      03h 38m  +22    29     3     3
STA Southern Taurids      03h 42m  +14    29     2     2
ORI Orionids              07h 14m  +16    67     2     2
LEO Leonids               09h 50m  +25    71    <1    <1

RA - Right Ascension
DEC - Declination
Vel - Velocity relative to Earth (in km per sec)
Rates - Rate of visible meteors per hour from a
        dark site
NH - Northern Hemisphere
SH - Southern Hemisphere