August is a fun month for meteor observers. Not only is it the month that one of the year’s best meteor showers is at its peak, but overall background rates continue to climb. The chart below shows the maximum number of meteors detected by any of my cameras during each calendar date between 2008 and 2017 (though there was a gap between late 2011 and early 2013). A few major showers are obvious; the Quadrantids in early January, the Perseids in mid-August, the Orionids in mid-October and the Geminids in mid-December. The plot also highlights a showers best performance since 2008. For example, the high values for the Orionids (mid-October) were from 2008 and 2009. The shower was less active in 2014-2016. Some of the dips, like the one in mid-July, are not real but a result of the poor weather especially during the monsoon months of July, August and early September.
This year’s monsoon was still in full effect during the first 4 nights of August. Conditions were better on August 5 due to a westerly wind which is blowing our monsoonal moisture out of southern Arizona. This drying trend will be temporary but may mean a few clear nights during the coming week.
August’s big shower is the Perseids (PER) which are already producing healthy numbers. These numbers should continue to climb up to its peak on the night of August 11/12. The Full Moon will knock down the number of observable Perseids this week. The Moon will still be bright and located in the morning sky during the peak of the Perseids meaning the shower will not appear as strong as it could be.
Obs Date(UT) Time TOT SPO ANT PER SDA CAP KCG Oth SAL 2017-08-05 07h 20m 22 7 1 6 2 0 1 5 SAL 2017-08-04 03h 18m 14 4 0 4 2 1 1 2 SAL 2017-08-03 02h 03m 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 SAL 2017-08-02 04h 43m 10 3 0 3 3 1 0 0 SAL 2017-08-01 00h 24m 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 SAL - SALSA3 camera in Tucson (Carl Hergenrother) VIS - Visual observations from Tucson (Carl Hergenrother) Time - 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 PER - Perseids SDA - Southern delta Aquariids CAP - alpha Capricornids KCG - kappa Cygnids Oth - other minor showers