2018 Alpha Aurigids and September Perseids

Alpha Aurigids    A minor meteor shower that occasionally produces stronger displays

Main Activity Dates Aug 25 to Sep 10
Peak Rates Sep 1
Peak ZHR 5
Best Observed Rates Late in the night of Aug 31 – Sep 1
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night, but radiant is low in sky before midnight
Moonlight issues at maximum Major: waning gibbous Moon in Cetus

September (Epsilon Perseids)   A minor meteor shower that produced a somewhat stronger display in 2013

Main Activity Dates Sep 5 – 21
Peak Rates Sep 9
Peak ZHR 5
Best Observed Rates Night of Sep 9-10
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night, but radiant is low in sky before midnight
Moonlight issues at maximum None: new Moon on Sep 9

September is often overlooked by many meteor observers due to there being no major meteor showers active. However, it is around this time of the year that sporadic background activity peaks and a number of minor meteor showers are also active.

The Alpha Aurigids start in August and peak at the August/September transition. Moonlight circumstances are very bad in 2018, with a waning gibbous Moon in Cetus, in the same part of the sky as the radiant.  Dramatic enhancements of Alpha Aurigid activity have been seen in some years, but none are predicted for 2018. This chart shows the radiant location, with the UK horizon shown for the early hours of the morning – note that the radiant is closer to Delta Aurigae than to Alpha Aurigae (Capella):

The September Perseids (sometimes referred to as the Epsilon Perseids) peak around the 9th of the month. The shower is properly observable from the UK by 22h UT, and can be watched thereafter all night. A stronger than usual display from this shower was detected in 2013. A Full Moon restricted observations in 2014, but nothing unusual was reported. Similarly, nothing unusual occurred in 2015 or 2016. Moonlight circumstances are ideal in 2018, as new Moon occurs on Sep 9.

This chart shows the radiant location, with the UK horizon shown for the middle of the night. Note that at maximum the radiant lies close to Beta Persei (Algol) rather than Epsilon Persei.

Later in the month we start to see the start of activity associated with numerous meteoroid trails left behind over the millennia by comet Encke. Indeed, from mid September the IMO lists the Southern Taurid shower, rather than listing the more general Antihelion source in its shower listing.