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Nov 2, 2012 - 11:34:01 AM

Meteor Activity Outlook for November 3-9, 2012

By Robert Lunsford - American Meteor Society
Nov 2, 2012 - 11:25:25 AM


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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 last quarter phase on Wednesday November 7th. At this time the moon is located ninety degrees west of the sun and well rise near 2300 (11pm) local standard time (LST). This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will interfere with meteor observing the remainder of the night. As the week progresses the moon will rise later and later, becoming less of a nuisance with each passing night.

The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near four for observers located at mid-northern latitudes and three for observers in mid-southern latitudes. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near fourteen from the mid-northern hemisphere and eight from the mid-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. Rates during the morning hours are reduced this week due to moonlight.

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 3/4. These positions do not change greatly day to day so the listed coordinates may be used during this entire period. Most star atlases (available at science stores and planetariums) will provide maps with grid lines of the celestial coordinates so that you may find out exactly where these positions are located in the sky.

A planisphere or computer planetarium program is also useful in showing the sky at any time of night on any date of the year. Activity from each radiant is best seen when it is positioned highest in the sky, either due north or south along the meridian, depending on your latitude. It must be remembered that meteor activity is rarely seen at the radiant position. Rather they shoot outwards from the radiant so it is best to center your field of view so that the radiant lies at the edge and not the center.

Viewing there will allow you to easily trace the path of each meteor back to the radiant (if it is a shower member) or in another direction if it is a sporadic. Meteor activity is not seen from radiants that are located below the horizon. The positions below are listed in a west to east manner in order of right ascension (celestial longitude). The positions listed first are located further west therefore are accessible earlier in the night while those listed further down the list rise later in the night.

The following radiants are expected to be active this week:

Remnants from the famous Andromedid (AND) shower, noted for intense storms during the 19th century, may still be seen throughout November. The current position of this large radiant is 01:24 (021) +23 . This position lies in eastern Pisces, ten degrees west of the second magnitude star Hamal (Alpha Arietis). The radiant is so diffuse that Andromedid meteors may be seen coming from southern Andromeda, Triangulum, and northwestern Aries as well as eastern Pisces. Visual activity is expected to be low, but detectable. An inconspicuous maximum occurs on November 9, when this source is the 5th most active radiant in the sky. The Andromedid meteors are best seen near 2200 LST, when the radiant lies on the meridian and lies highest in the sky. At 19km/sec., the average Andromedid will appear as a very slow moving meteor.

The Northern Taurids (NTA) are now active from a large radiant centered at 03:28 (052) +21. This area of the sky lies on the Aries/Taurus border, five degrees southwest of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. The radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Maximum activity is not expected until November 13, so current rates would be 2-3 per hour, no matter your location. Meteors from the Northern Taurids strike the atmosphere at 29km/sec., which would produce meteors of slow velocity. You must face in the general direction of the north and south Taurid radiants in order to tell them apart.

The Southern Taurid (STA) radiant is currently located at 03:36 (054) +13. This position lies in western Taurus, ten degrees south of the famous naked eye open cluster known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters. This radiant is best placed near 0100 LST, when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Maximum occurred on October 9th, so rates would now be near one per hour when the radiant lies high in the sky. With an entry velocity of 29 km/sec., the average Southern Taurid meteor would be of slow velocity.


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