Reports have come in of a meteorite fall in Brazil on the morning of 19th August 2020. Fragments of the meteorite broke a roof and were found on a bed!
September’s showers are once again impacted by the Moon. The Aurigids peak on 31st August just before the Full Moon, and so will be best viewed before dawn when the radiant will be high in the East. A week later, on 10th September, the peak of the eta-Perseids which will be best viewed before moonrise at 23:00 when the radiant will again be high in the East. Both showers have rates of five or six per hour.
In late September you may see a few Daytime Sextantids at dawn or dusk and radio observers should pick them up during the day. The radiant of this shower will be quite close to Venus in the pre-dawn sky.
In October, the Draconids peak on the 8th with an hourly rate of about ten and are best observed in the evening before moonrise when the radiant will be high in the West. Conversely, the Orionids peak on 22nd with an hourly rate of five and are best observed after midnight once the radiant has risen in the East.
There are a few other weak showers: the Eta Geminids peak on 18th Oct, the Southern Taurids on 10th Oct, the Leonis Minorids on 24th Oct and the Northern Taurids, active from 20th Oct through into November. These showers have rates of under five.
Remember if you do spot something interesting to send details to email@example.com
Although the summer months are short, we do have the benefit of warmer nights and – hopefully- one of the best meteor showers of the year, the Perseids (PER). This year the Perseids will peak on the 12th and 13th of August, with the radiant in the North East at dusk. The waning crescent Moon won’t rise till midnight so early evening will be the best time to watch. Quoted rates are 150 but realistically 60-75 is more likely unless you’re in a dark sky site.
A week or so earlier the Delta Aquariids (SDA) and Alpha Capricornids (CAP) will peak round the 29th or 30th of July. Unfortunately the Moon will be waxing gibbous and won’t set till around 1am, so the best time to watch will be before dawn. Expect a rate of two or three an hour when the Moon is up, higher after moonset. The radiants are low in the South. The view below shows both radiants at around 01.30 on the night of the peak. As an added bonus, Jupiter and Saturn should both be visible, blazing brightly.
Finally, there is the possiblilty of an outburst of the July Gamma-Draconids (GDR) on the 28th of July. In 2016, there was an intense outburst of ~100/hour for a few minutes after midnight UT. The same orbital alignment arises in 2020 at around 00:30UT on the same date so its well worth a look. Gamma Draconis will be close to the zenith at the time and the Moon will just have set.
May and June are quiet for visual meteor hunters as the majority of showers are ‘daytime’ events and their radiants are too close to the Sun for us to observer visually. However if you have a radio detector you should pick them up. There’s more information about how to make a radio detector here and more on the daytime showers here.
The Eta Aquariids (ETA) will be largely washed out by the Full Moon on the 7th of May as will the Eta Lyrids (ELY) on the 9th. Given the moonlight the hourly rates for these showers are likely to be 2-3 combined.
The June Bootids (JBO) are listed in most catalogues as peaking on the 27th of June but have shown no significant activity since 2004. Nothing much is expected in 2020 either, but if you do see any activity please let me know as it would be scientifically interesting as the parent body comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke has changed orbit since 2004.
There’s one other possible interesting event: on the 14th of May, debris from Apollo asteroid 461852 may pass close enough to the Earth to give rise to slow-moving meteors. If you are out and about that night and see anything please do report it.
At 09:31 UTC on the 28th of February, a spectacular fireball was spotted by many observers over northern Italy and Croatia.
The event was seen over a wide area of Croatia, Slovenia and northern Italy, accompanied by a sonic boom. It is thought likely that some fragments will have survived and made it to the ground.
Video footage of the event can be seen here:
March a very quiet month for night time meteor hunters, April a bit less so.
In March, the γ-Normids (GNO) and π-Puppids (PPU) are a southern hemisphere event. Most of April’s showers are daytime, such as the April Piscids (APS), and have radiants close to the Sun. The Anthelion source also peaks during March and April but this isn’t really a shower. It refers to an oval area about thirty degrees in RA and fifteen in declination, centred a bit to the east of the point opposite the sun on the ecliptic from which several weak unnamed showers originate. Its not possible to identify a specific radiant for these meteors, and you’re best to just ID them as source=ANT! There may be a weak peak around 17th March. If you run a radio detector you may pick up activity from these showers – if so please do send details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The main event of April is the Lyrids (LYR) which peak on 22nd April at 07.00. The ZHR can be up to 90 but is predicted to be around 18 in 2020. The radiant will be high in the south-east and the Moon will be new, so we can hope for clear skies. A ZHR of 18 implies a visual rate of around six an hour given the position of the radiant and lack of moonlight.
The Lyrids are followed by the η-Aquariids (ETA), which run from 19th April to mid May and peak in early May with a ZHR of 50. However the radiant rises very close to dawn, so don’t expect too much. On the plus side, the Moon won’t have risen!
If you spot an interesting event please email email@example.com or via @markmac99 on Twitter.
The January 2020 edition of eMeteorNews is now available online for this who are interested.
The first meteor shower of 2020 is just around the corner, with the Quadrantids (QUA) expected to peak on the morning of the 4th of January. This is a short-lived but often intense shower. The quoted hourly rate is about 120 but the first-quarter Moon will set around midnight and with the Moon up, a realistic rate is 20-30. Once the Moon sets it should improve.
For more information see the main article here
The first shower of the year, the Quadrantids (QUA), is usually a pretty good one. The peak this year is on 3rd/4th January. Thewaxing gibbous Moon will set around 1am, so the best time will be in the hours before dawn. Wrap up warm though!
The published hourly rate is 120 for the Quadrantids but this assumes the radiant is directly over above you, there is no moonlight, and you can see in all directions at once. In fact the radiant will be between 30 and 50 degrees up during the hours between moonset and dawn, and so you might expect to see 10-20 per hour around moonset, perhaps more later.
After the Quadrantids its quiet in the meteor calendar until April. The only shower visible from the Northern Hemisphere is the γ-Ursae Minorids (GUM) on the 10th of Jan with an hourly rate of three, though the December Leonis Minorids (DLM) do run on until February. There are two faint showers, the α-Centaurids (ACE) and γ-Normids (GNO) visible from the Southern Hemisphere but these also have very low rates.
The Anthelion Source is also most easily observed at this time of year. This is a large patch of sky containing a number of weak ill-defined showers. The centre of the anthelion source starts the year in Gemini and moves into Leo during February. Hourly rates of two to three can be expected from this area of sky about thirty by fifteen degrees.
December is one of the best months for meteor hunters. Although the nights are cold, they’re long and dark, and we have one of the most active meteor showers of the year to look forward to.
Early in the month, watch out for the Phoenecids (PHO). Researchers think that the Earth may be about to pass through a denser patch of cometary debris on 2nd Dec, with a possible hourly rate of 12 around 21:30UT and a radiant near theta Ceti (much higher than the normal radiant of this shower which is not a northern hemisphere object).
The Geminids (GEM) are the big event of the year, usually producing even greater numbers than the Perseids. The peak this year on 13th/14th Dec is unfortunately close to the Full Moon but Gemini is well placed from 22.00 onward and with an hourly rate of 150, you should spot some meteors in the early evening even against the moonlight. They’re quite slow moving, can be bright and colourful but do not usually leave trails.
Taking into account the moonlight, a realistic rate is between 7 and 10 per hour. The Geminids run from 4th to 17th Dec. The screenshot below shows the radiant high in the East at 22.00 with that annoying Moon just below!
The Ursids (URS) run from 17th to 26th Dec with a peak on 21st/22nd Dec and an hourly rate of around 10, but with a 20% waning crescent Moon and the radiant high in the North near the box of Ursa Minor, observation conditions are good.
Finally although they peak in early January, the Quadrantids (QUA) start in late December. With an hourly rate of 120 and the moon a waxing crescent, there’s a good chance of seeing some if the skies are clear. The radiant is low in the north east.
There are also several minor showers during December. The Monocerotids (MON) peak on the 9th with a rate of two, the σ-Hydrids (HYD) peak on the 12th with a rate of around three, the Comae Berenicids (COM) peak on the 16th also with a rate of around three, and the December Leonis Minorids (DLM) peak on the 20th with a rate of around 5. None of these are individually spectacular but it does mean there’s almost constant shower activity in December!
If you do see something please send in a report to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the link on our website to report it via the IMO. When making a report of a sighting, please include the date, time, your location, the direction in which you saw the object, and rough direction it was going in. This can help us link it to other sightings, and maybe even work out more about the meteoroid that caused it.