Meteor Showers 2016

Tarbert 27th Jan

Firstly, apologies for the delay, we have missed the Quadrantids at the start of January.
If you follow the facebook page you’ll know that I’ve been getting excited about the beautiful mornings line up that we have been spoilt with (in between crazy weather).
If you are a morning person and are blessed with clear skies, look out before/during sunrise to the SE, S, SW and West from the horizon up, Mercury, Venus, Saturn Mars and Jupiter have been visible, unfortunately the weather was not on our side most mornings, but I managed to see them a few times.

Fireballs!
Around the Spring Equinox  we now have a fireball season, unpredictable but a regular occurrence so keep your eyes peeled in the weeks just before and after the 20th March!

Towards the end of April is the Lyrid Meteor Shower, from around the 16th to the 25th April, with a bright moon though we may not be able to see as many as usual, look NE after around 10pm.
The Lyrids quite often leave trails and has surges of around 100 meteors an hour, so it’s well worth looking out for.

Stargazing For Beginners

Between May the 5th-7th, if you are an early bird and up before the crack of dawn, look out for the Eta Aquarids, again, we are possibly too far North to see many.

August brings us the Perseids, probably one of the best/easiest meteor showers to view on a clear night.
The nights are warmer too, so it’s a perfect introduction for younger members of the family.
It builds up through August and peaks around the 10th to 13th.
They radiate from the constellation Perseus, however, you don’t need to be an expert on constellations, just allow your eyes to adjust to the dark and gaze into the sky, before long you will spot any movement.
Perseids can often give a spectacular display, so if the weather is on your side make the most of it!

October gives us the Draconids in Draco, the Dragon Constellation, it has the potential to be another spectacular show!

The Draconids is another meteor shower that is best watched early evening, making it another one ideal to look out for if you have young children.
The Draconid showers radiant point stands highest in the sky as darkness falls, so unlike many meteor showers, more Draconids are likely to fly in the evening hours than in the morning hours after midnight.
This shower is usually a sleeper, producing only a handful of  meteors per hour most years. But watch out if the Dragon awakes!   Draco has been known to show many hundreds of meteors in a single hour!

Around the 21st to 22nd October is the Orionids, another one for early risers as you are most likely to see these just before dawn.
However, often you can see meteors various times of the night, if you are out and about it is always worth taking some time to just look up, you could be surprised!

The Taurid Meteor showers last a long time, but I have just put their peak dates on our Public Calendar.
The South Taurids spread out from the 25th September right through to the 25th November, so you could see them anytime, but the peak for the South taurids is the 4th to the 5th November.

The North Taurids spread out from around October the 12th to December the 2nd, but the peak time for viewing these is between the 11th and 12th November.

3D Astronomer 

The Taurids radiate from Taurus, the bull and are best seen around midnight when Taurus is high in the sky.

In November, the Leonids peak around the 17th November, the best time to see them is just before dawn, although they are often seen during the evenings and late night.

The  Leonid meteor shower happens every year at this time, as our world crosses the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Tempel-Tuttle litters its orbit with bits of debris. It’s when this cometary debris enters Earth’s atmosphere, and vaporizes, that we see the Leonid meteor shower.

Around the 13th December, the Geminid meteor shower peaks.
The best time to see this is around 2am, although you are likely to see many before then.
This year though the full Moon may prevent us seeing as many as usual, but it is still well worth staying up for!

You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy these stunning displays, the meteors are easily visible with the naked eye, and some can be spectacular!
You just need some patience, dark clear skies and to wrap up warm!
For the ultimate luxury, spoil yourself to a luxury camp bed and lay back, relax and enjoy the display!

 If you want to meet other astronomers and learn more about all our dark skies have to offer here on the West Coast, take a look at West Kintyre Stargazers who organise group talks, events and advice.

Meteor Showers 2015

Click image for full size

There is not much of the year left but there is still plenty to look out for in the crisp winter skies.
I have added the remainder of the meteor showers this year to the Tarbert Calendar and am in the process of listing the whole year for 2016.

November brings the North and South Taurids.

The South Taurids can be seen from September 25 to November 25 but the peak is tonight, between midnight and dawn.
There have already been reports of fireballs seen from it this year so if the skies are clear near you it is well worth staying up for, remember to wrap up warm!

Just in case you miss it, here is one in Bangkok on 2/11/15 (apologies for the funky music)

The  North Taurids Meteor Shower is another long running one, it runs from October 12 –to December 2 but peaks this month between 12th and 13th.
Most can be seen  around midnight, when Taurus is highest in the sky.
Taurid meteors tend to be slow-moving, but sometimes very bright.

The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks ate night November 17 until dawn November 18, the best time to see them is just before dawn.
Look for the planet Jupiter near the Leonids’ radiant point.

Image From Earthsky.org

If you are up early Friday morning 6th November, look out for the Moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter.
See the snap from my Sky Guide App for timing and positioning.

Sky Guide

The Geminids, December
The meteors will appear every night for two weeks, from 4 till 17 December.this year we should see a particularly dramatic display.
The shower reaches its peak on 13 and 14 December, when there will be no Moon allowing even the faintest shooting stars to stand out against the night sky.
Geminids produce over 100 meteors per hour at their peak which are slow and bright.
The great thing about Geminids is if you have clear dark skies and a little patience, you will see shooting stars. The Geminids don’t originate from a comet they come from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon.
 Meteors from this shower are very rocky and gritty and slightly easier to see compared to the other showers.

Mid to Late November Night Sky