Meteor Activity Outlook for February 19-25, 2011

During this period the moon reaches its last quarter phase on Thursday February 24th. At that time the moon lies ninety degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local standard time from most locations. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will ruin observing conditions during the dark morning hours. Toward the middle of the week those with transparent skies may be able the follow the feeble meteor activity by keeping the bright moon out of your field of view. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near two as seen from the northern hemisphere and three as seen from the southern hemisphere. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near four from the northern hemisphere and six as seen from south of the equator. 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 are reduced for the morning hours due to the bright 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 February 19/20. 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 showers are expected to be active this week. The detailed descriptions of each shower will be continued next week when the lunar interference will be less.

SHOWER DATE OF MAXIMUM ACTIVITY CELESTIAL POSITION ENTRY VELOCITY CULMINATION HOURLY RATE CLASS*
RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Standard Time North-South
Antihelion (ANT) - 10:56 (164) +05 30 01:00 1 - 1 II
Alpha Centaurids (ACE) Feb 08 14:58 (224) -63 56 05:00 <1 - <1 II