No matter where you live, the first half of December provides some of the best meteor activity of the year. In the northern hemisphere the sporadic rates are still strong plus you can also count on strong activity from the Geminids, which peak on December 13. There are also several minor radiants that add a few meteors each hour. All of these centers of activity are located high in the sky during the early morning hours this time of year. Much of the activity mentioned above can also be seen from the southern hemisphere. While the sporadic rates are not as strong as those seen from the north, they are stronger than the previous months and heading for a maximum in February.
During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Monday November 25th. At this time the half-illuminated moon will lie 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local standard time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This weekend and Monday, the moon will interfere with morning observations. This can be overcome if you have transparent skies and you face away from the moon. The evening hours are free of moonlight but produce less activity than after midnight. As the week progresses, the waning crescent moon will rise later each night. By the end of the period it will not be much of a factor as it will be thin and will only rise just before the start of dawn.
During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Sunday November 17th. At this time the moon will lie opposite the sun and will lie above the horizon all night long as seen from mid-northern latitudes. As the week progresses, the waning gibbous moon will rise later each night, opening a window of dark skies in the hours immediately following dusk. Unfortunately the more active morning hours will still have severe lunar interference which will reduce the activity seen. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 2 for observers located in the northern hemisphere and 1 for those viewing south of the equator.
During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Saturday November 10th. At this time the half-illuminated moon will lie 90 degrees east of the sun and will set near 2300 (11pm) local standard time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This will leave the more active morning hours totally free of interfering moonlight. As the week progresses, the waxing gibbous moon will set later each night. By the end of the period the bright moon will lie above the horizon most of the night. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 4 for observers located in the northern hemisphere and 3 for those viewing south of the equator.
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.