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.
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.
During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Wednesday January 19th. At that time the moon lies opposite of the sun and is present in the sky all night long. This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will set during the early morning hours, allowing a brief window of opportunity to view under conditions free of interfering moonlight during the last few hours before the start of morning twilight. 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 thirteen no matter your location.
During this period the moon reaches its first quarter phase on Wednesday January 12th. At this time the moon lies ninety degrees east of the sun and sets near midnight LST (Local Standard Time). This weekend the waxing crescent moon will set during the mid-evening hours allowing a majority of the night to be free from interfering moonlight. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near three from the northern hemisphere and three for observers south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near eighteen from the northern hemisphere and sixteen as seen from the southern hemisphere.
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 new phase on Tuesday January 4th. At this time the moon lies near the sun and is not visible at night.