2017 Meteor Showers

MAJOR METEOR SHOWERS OF 2017 & PARENT BODIES: See below for many related links of interest to include a link that will calculate Sun/Moon rise & set times for your location.

Meteor Shower season in upon us once again so I compiled this list to (hopefully) aid you in planning your nights. I begin with Moon basics and five basic, frequently asked questions and the list of meteor showers is below that.

MOON: For each shower, I also offer a Moon impact rating from NULL, MODERATE, SIGNIFICANT and MAXIMUM based on its age and phase. Remember; New through 1st Quarter Moons rarely cause any trouble as they set early. Full through Last Quarter really cause the heartache as they are up all night and or rise late, thus impact pre-dawn peak viewing times.

HOW MANY WILL I SEE?: Keep in mind predictions are just that, predictions based of past totals, performance and future forecasts so just because it says “X” per-hour you have to understand that meteor shower prediction is about as fickle as weather prediction. Also when you see “X” per-hour, that’s DARK SKY totals with the radiant point directly overhead, 360 degree horizons and including faint meteors, so your totals (like mine) will probably be half that if you’re viewing from your back yard and are within 30 min or so of a medium sized city. Probably half that if the moon is out and larger than a small, few day young or old crescent.

WHEN DO I LOOK?: Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the closer to morning twilight you can get, the better…..here’s why. If you view the solar system from the “top” planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion and we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth.

WHERE DO I LOOK?: You will want to look in the direction of the radiant point of the shower for best results. The radiant point is, well, where it appears that the meteors radiate from and is usually associated with the constellation they are named after. For example; the radiant point for the Orionids is the constellation of Orion. Just above his head or over his shoulders actually. Also the higher that the radiant point gets the better observing may become because meteors radiate out in all directions and most aren’t visible until they’re approximately 30 degrees or so from the radiant point.

WHAT DO I NEED?: Well, as for seeing them….nothing. The most important things you need are a clear, dark sky, preferably with a nice wide open horizon and moon free. In fact you really can’t use binoculars or telescopes for meteor showers because the streak is too long and you won’t be able to physically move your equipment into position in less than a second anyway. Also just as a quick reference; 1st quarter moon rises around noon, is high overhead around sunset and sets around midnight. Full moon rises around sunset is up all night (usually highest around midnight) and sets with sunrise. 3rd (last) quarter moon rises around midnight is high overhead around sunrise and sets around noon. These aren’t exact but pretty good gages to use when trying to figure out when the moon will show up and or go away.

THINGS TO CONSIDER: are weather and subsequently how you plan to dress for that weather. Red flashlights will help save your eyes because dark adaptation is a key in picking out the faint streaks you won’t be able to see after you just check your cell phone. Besides that, good people, chair, blankets, bug spray, food and try not to lie on any ant hills.

 

QUADRANTIDS (January)

ACTIVE DATES: Jan 1 – 10, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of January 3 & morning of January 4.

HOURLY RATE: Upwards of 50 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the extinct constellation of Quadrant near Bootes.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: Waxing Crescent 30% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 26 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Unsure but thought to be Asteroid 2003 EH (5.5 year orbit).

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

LYRIDS (April)

ACTIVE DATES: Apr 16 – 25, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of April 21 & morning of April 22.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 15 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Lyra.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: Waning crescent 25% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 30 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher (415 year orbit).

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

ETA AQUARIDS (April/May)

ACTIVE DATES: Apr 15 May 28 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of May 5 & morning of May 6.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 20 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Aquarius.

MOON IMPACT: SIGNIFICANT: Waxing gibbous 78% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 42 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 1P (Halley) or “Halley’s Comet” (76 year orbit).

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Southern Hemisphere.

 

DELTA AQUARIDS (July/August)

ACTIVE DATES: Jul 21 – Aug 23, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of July 29 & morning of July 30.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 20 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Aquarius.

MOON IMPACT: MODERATE: Waxing crescent 44% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 26 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 96P/Machholz.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Southern Hemisphere.

 

PERSEIDS (July/August)

ACTIVE DATES: Jul 15 – Aug 25, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Aug 11 & morning of Aug 12.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 75 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Perseus.

MOON IMPACT: SIGNIFICANT: Waning Gibbous 81% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 37 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 109P/Swift/Tuttle.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

ORIONIDS (October/November)

ACTIVE DATES: Oct 4 – Nov 12, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Oct 21 & morning of Oct 22.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 25 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Orion.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: Waxing crescent 5% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 41 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 1P/Halley or “Halley’s Comet”.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

SOUTHERN TAURIDS (September/November)

ACTIVE DATES: Sep 20 – Nov 25, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Nov 4 & morning of Nov 5.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 10 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Taurus.

MOON IMPACT: MAXIMUM: Full (just past) 99% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 17 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 2P/Encke.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

LEONIDS (November)

ACTIVE DATES: Nov 5 – Nov 30, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Nov 16 & morning of Nov 17.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 15 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Leo.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: New moon.

VELOCITY: 44 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

GEMINIDS (December)

ACTIVE DATES: Dec 4 – Dec 16, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Dec 13 & morning of Dec 14.

HOURLY RATE: Upwards of 100 per hour.

RADIANT POINT: Constellation Gemini.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: Waning crescent 16% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 22 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

 

URSIDS (December)

ACTIVE DATES: Dec 17 – Dec 23, 2017.

PEAK VIEWING: Night of Dec 21 & morning of Dec 22.

HOURLY RATE: Approximately 10 per hour with possible outbursts of 25+ per hour.

RADIANT POINT: Constellation Ursa Major or Big Dipper asterism.

MOON IMPACT: NULL: Waxing crescent 11% illuminated.

VELOCITY: 20 miles per second.

PARENT BODY: Comet 8P/Tuttle.

HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

Data & Resource Links:

U.S. Naval Observatory: Rise & Set Times for Major Planetary Bodies: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/mrst.php

Moon Phase Calculator: http://www.moonpage.com/index.html

Time And Date meteor showers: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/

American Meteor Society (AMS) forecast: http://www.amsmeteors.org/meteor-showers/meteor-shower-calendar/

Dominic Ford’s, In-The-Sky meteor showers: http://in-the-sky.org/newsindex.php?feed=meteors

International Astronomical Union (IAU) constellations page: http://www.iau.org/public/themes/constellations/

International Meteor Organization (IMO) forecast: http://www.imo.net/resources/calendar/