Meteor Activity Outlook for January 22-28, 2011

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.

January sees a peak of sporadic activity for the southern hemisphere while rates seen north of the equator begin a steady downward turn that continues throughout the first half of the year. The sporadic activity is good for both hemispheres, but not as good as it was for northern observers in December. Once the Quadrantids have passed the shower activity for January is very quiet.

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Wednesday January 26th. At that time the moon lies ninety degrees west of the sun and rises near midnight local standard time. Meteor observing can be undertaken at this time as long as the moon is not in your field of view. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will remain in the sky the remainder of the night. It will be difficult to view under these circumstances unless you have extremely transparent skies. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three no matter your location. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near six no matter your location. 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. Rates are reduced by moonlight during this period.

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 January 22/23. 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. The detailed descriptions will be continued next week when the moonlight is not as intense.

The list below presents a condensed version of the expected activity this week.
Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Shower Name                 RA     DEC   Vel     Rates
                                         km/s   NH    SH
ANT Antihelions           08h 32m  +16    30     2     1
DLM Dec Leonis Minorids   12h 43m  +16    64     1    <1
GMU Gamma Ursa Minorids   15h 16m  +67    42    <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