During this period the moon will reach its last quarter phase on Wednesday September 13th. At this time the half illuminated moon will be located 90 degrees west of the sun and will rise near midnight local summer time (LST) as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This weekend the waning gibbous moon will rise during the late evening hours and will ruin the prime meteor viewing hours with its intense moonlight. The estimated total hourly meteor rates for evening observers this week is near 4 for those viewing from the northern hemisphere and 3 for those located south of the equator. For morning observers the estimated total hourly rates should be near 13 as seen from mid-northern latitudes and 7 from the southern tropics. 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 the morning hours during this period due to moonlight. Note that the hourly rates listed below are estimates as viewed from dark sky sites away from urban light sources. Observers viewing from urban areas will see less activity as only the brighter meteors will be visible from such locations.
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 September 9/10. 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 far 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.
These sources of meteoric activity are expected to be active this week.
The chi Cygnids (CCY) are a new discovery due to an outburst observed on September 15, 2015. These meteors are expected to be active from September 8-17, with maximum occurring on September 13-14. The radiant currently lies at 19:48 (297) +30 which places it in southern Cygnus, 4 degrees northeast of the famous 3rd magnitude double star known as Albireo (beta Cygnus). Rates are expected to be low except at maximum when perhaps 1 shower member per hour may be seen. This radiant is best near 22:00 LST when it lies highest in the sky. With an entry velocity of 15 km/sec., the average chi Cygnid meteor would be very slow.
The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) radiant is currently located at 00:00 (000) 00. This position lies in western Pisces, 7 degrees south of the 4th magnitude star known as omega Piscium. Due to the large size of this radiant, Anthelion activity may also appear from eastern Aquarius, southern Pegasus and northwestern Cetus as well as Pisces. This radiant is best placed near 0200 local summer time (LST), when it lies on the meridian and is located highest in the sky. Hourly rates at this time should be near 2 no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of medium-slow velocity.
The September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) are active from September 3 through October 3 with the peak occurring on the night of September 9/10. The radiant is currently located at 03:15 (049) +40. This position lies just 2 degrees southeast of the variable star known as Algol (beta Persei). The radiant is best placed near 0500 LST, when it lies highest above the horizon. Rates are expected to be near 2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and less than 1 as seen from the southern hemisphere. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., most activity from this radiant would be swift.
The nu Eridanids (NUE) were co-discovered by Japanese observers using SonotoCo and Juergen Rendtel and Sirko Molau of the IMO. Activity from this long-period stream stretches from August 24 all the way to November 16. Maximum activity occurs on September 24. The radiant currently lies at 04:16 (064) +04, which places it in southeastern Taurus, 4 degrees south of the 4th magnitude star known as mu Tauri. This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 67 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.
The eta Eridanids (ERI) were discovered by Japanese observers back in 2001. Activity from this stream is seen from July 23 though September 17 with maximum activity occurring on August 11. The radiant currently lies at 04:40 (070) -04, which places it in northeastern Eridanus, 1 degree southwest of the 4th magnitude star known as mu Eridani. This area of the sky is best seen during the last dark hour before dawn when the radiant lies highest in a dark sky. Current rates are expected to be less than 1 per hour during this period no matter your location. With an entry velocity of 65 km/sec., the average meteor from this source would be of swift velocity.
As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately 9 sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near 3 per hour. As seen from the tropical southern latitudes (25S), morning rates would be near 5 per hour as seen from rural observing sites and 2 per hour during the evening hours. Locations between these two extremes would see activity between the listed figures. Morning rates are reduced during this period due to moonlight.
The list below offers the information from above in tabular form. Rates and positions are exact for Saturday night/Sunday morning except where noted in the shower descriptions.
|DATE OF MAXIMUM ACTIVITY
|RA (RA in Deg.) DEC
|Local Summer Time
|chi Cygnids (CCY)
|19:48 (297) +30
|<1 – <1
|00:00 (000) 00
|2 – 2
|September Epsilon Perseids (SPE)
|03:15 (049) +40
|2 – <1
|nu Eridanids (NUE)
|04:16 (064) +04
|<1 – <1
|eta Eridanids (ERI)
|04:40 (070) -04
|<1 – <1