During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Saturday March 8th. At this time the moon will lie 90 degrees east of the sun and will set between midnight and 0100 local standard time for sites located at mid-northern latitudes. This will allow the more active morning hours to be free of interfering moonlight this weekend. Next week though, the moon will become more of a problem as it sets approximately 45 minutes with each passing night. Toward the end of the week the nearly full moon will be in the sky most of the night making meteor observing difficult.
As seen from the northern hemisphere, March is the slowest month for meteor activity. No major annual showers are active and only a few very weak minor showers produce activity this month. The sporadic rates are also near their annual minimum so there is not much to look forward to this month except for the evening fireballs that seem to peak this time of year from the northern hemisphere. This could be due to the fact the Antapex radiant lies highest above the horizon this time of year during the evening hours. From the southern hemisphere, activity from the Centaurid complex begins to wane with only the weak activity visible from Norma and perhaps others areas nearby.
During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Saturday February 22nd. At this time the moon will lie 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight LST (Local Standard Time) as seen from mid-northern latitudes. The one-half illuminated moon will interfere with meteor observing, but not as badly as with a full moon in the sky. The glare of the moon can be avoided if your view in a portion of the sky away from the moon. The moon will continue to wane this week and will rise approximately 45 minutes later with each passing night. Therefore observing conditions towards the end of this period will be more favorable than those this weekend.
During this period the moon begins at its full phase then wanes down to nearly one-half illuminated by Friday February 21st. This will be the worst period of the month to try an view meteor activity as the moon will lie above the horizon during the entire morning hours, when meteor activity is normally the strongest. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 2 for observers situated at mid-northern latitudes and 3 for observers viewing from the southern tropics (latitude 25 S.). For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 5 for observers situated at mid-northern latitudes and 10 for observers viewing from the southern tropics.
During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Friday February 14th. At this time the moon will lie opposite the sun and will remain above the horizon all night long as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours and will allow several hours of viewing under optimal conditions before the onset of dawn. This window of opportunity will shrink by approximately 45 minutes with each passing day until the moon lies above the horizon all night long toward the end of the week. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 3 for observers situated at mid-northern latitudes and 4 for observers viewing from the southern tropics (latitude 25 S.).
February offers the meteor observer in the northern hemisphere a couple of weak showers plus falling sporadic rates. This may not seem too exiting but you never know when surprises are in store. An errant earthgrazer from the Centaurid complex may shoot northward. Better yet, a bright fireball may light up the sky. February is the start of the fireball season, when an abundance of fireballs seem to occur. This lasts well into April and seems to occur mostly during the early evening hours.