Research Projects

Meteor Showers

"The collection of meteor observations by several methods from all around the world ensures the comprehensive study of meteor showers and their relation to comets and interplanetary dust." (IMO homepage

This is one of the easiest projects for amateurs to get involved in. As a minimum it requires visual unaided eye observing. Other observing methods include telescopic, photographic, video, fireball and radio observations. On a special note, amateur Hal Povenmire of Florida has contributed by discovering a new minor meteor stream called the "Upsilon Pegasids".

The WCAC has a special interest group for meteor watches. The club may also schedule a Public Starwatch program during the Perseids or other meteor showers and simply enjoy the show. Dates for this program or any other informal meteor watch can be found on the Whats Up  page.

Some of the major meteor showers are:
 
SHOWER ACTIVE PERIOD PEAK RATE PARENT BODY
Quadrantids Jan 1 - 5 Jan 3 40 - 100
Lyrids Apr 16 - 25 Apr 22 15 - 20 Comet Thatcher
Eta Aquarids Apr 19 - May 28 May 4 20 - 50 Comet Halley
Delta Aquarids July 8 - Sept 20 July 29 20
Perseids July17 - Aug 24 Aug 12 50 - 100 Comet Swift-Tuttle
Orionids Sept 10 - Oct 26 Oct 22 25 Comet Halley
Taurids Sept 15 - Nov 26 Nov 3 12 - 15 Comet Encke
Leonids Nov 14 - 21 Nov 17 10 - 15 Comet Tempel Tuttle
Geminids Dec 7 - 17 Dec 14 50 - 80 Asteroid 3200 Phaeton
Ursids Dec 17 - 26 Dec 22 10 - 20 Comet Tuttle

Note that dates are approximate. The rate is the zenithal hourly rate (ZNR). It is number of meteors you can expect to see with the radiant directly overhead with no clouds and stars of magnitude 6.0 or fainter can be seen with the un-aided eye.

For further information contact:

WCAC SIG Meteor Watches  - The Wilderness Center Astronomy Club special interest group Meteor Watches page.

International Meteor Organization (IMO) (http://www.imo.net) Details the specifics for different types of meteor observing and how to submit data.

North American Meteor Network (NAMN) (http://www.namnmeteors.org/) Focusing more on North America. There are also charts of constellations with stellar magnitudes available to determine the limiting magnitude of your site.

Dutch Meteor Society (DMS) (http://www.dmsweb.org/)
 


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last updated July 12, 2017 by Brian Gray