Meteor Activity Outlook for March 19-25, 2011

During this period the moon reaches its full phase on Saturday March 19th. At that time the moon lies opposite the sun and will remain in the sky the entire night. Meteor observations during this period are difficult at best, especially with the normal low rates that occur this time of year. The estimated total hourly rates for evening observers this week is near one as seen from the northern hemisphere and two 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 during this period 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 March 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 will be continued next week when the moonlight is not as intense. Note that the position for the Zeta Serpentids listed below is for Wednesday March 23, the first night of expected activity from this source. All other positions are for Sunday March 20th.

             

SHOWER DATE OF MAXIMUM ACTIVITY CELESTIAL POSITION ENTRY VELOCITY CULMINATION HOURLY RATE CLASS*
RA (RA in Deg.) DEC Km/Sec Local Daylight Time North-South
Antihelion (ANT) - 12:48 (192) -06 30 02:00 1 - 1 II
Zeta Serpentids (ZSE) Mar 25 16:48 (252) +03 64 05:00 <1-<1 IV
Gamma Normids (GNO) Mar 14 17:00 (255) -50 56 05:00 <1-1 II