(meteorobs) Omicron Draconids and Alpha Lyrids, and a 50-year-old memory

Skywayinc at aol.com Skywayinc at aol.com
Sat Jul 16 01:22:43 EDT 2005

Hi folks! -- 

I received the following e-mail (below) from David Levy.  I'm wondering if 
there is anybody on our meteorobs list that can answer some of his 
questions.  David attached a photograph with his message; I will be happy
to forward it to anyone who would like to see it if they e-mail me directly.

I should note that I will be on vacation for a week, beginning July 18.  So 
you e-mail me after that date, you probably won't get a reply from me 
until after July 25 at the earliest.

-- joe rao

Dear Joe

I am writing because of an interest I have in tracking down two very minor 
showers, the Omicron Draconids and Alpha Lyrids. On the night of Tempel 1's 
impact with Deep Impact, I recorded in one of my images a bright meteor 
passing directly in front of the comet.   This meteor happened to be 
visually observed at the same time, through my 16-inch telescope by Michael 
Terenzoni.  The beginning and end points of the meteor are approximately

13 40 10.0  and -9 24 16
13 37 00.0  and -9 37 19

The meteor appeared on 2005 07 04 at 6:17 UT.

I believe that this meteor can be traced roughly back to the Alpha Lyrid 
radiant, less likely to the Omicron Draconid one.

However I have two problems with this.  On is that on that particular night 
we noticed several faint meteors coming from the Omicron Draconid radiant, 
even though it is a bit early for either shower.  This unusual burst of 
activity would indicate that the meteor could be an Omicron Draconid.

Secondly, the color is wrong for an Alpha Lyrid, whose meteors are supposed 
to be whitish.  Terenzoni reported this meteor as definitely greenish.

My questions are:
1) do you know of any reports of the colors of Omicron Draconids?

2) Could you possibly recheck my calculation-- maybe I was wrong in 
pointing this back to the Lyrid radiant.   Any insights you could provide 
on these two showers would be appreciated.

3) Is it possible these two radiants-- whose times of activity are almost 
the same and which are separated by only 15 degrees about --- are related 
physically somehow?

4)  Do you know of any other northern sky showers that might have contributed?

I have a personal reason for wanting to track this down.  My very first 
observation of the night sky took place on July 5(UT), 1956, when I was 
8.   I was walking back to our cabin on a clear moonless night in Vermont 
when I looked up and saw a meteor.  My memory is of a short, 2nd magnitude 
meteor passing through Lyra.  I am almost certain that the meteor was an 
Omicron Draconid, judging from its direction, shortness of trail, and 
passage toward the east near Vega.  I do not think it could have been an 
Alpha Lyrid.   A few years ago I revisited the campsite and tried to 
recreate the observation.    So even though it will be 50 years next July, 
I still have a pretty good memory of it.  It may even have sparked my 
interest in astronomy.

I appreciate your help with this problem, and thank you for your time.  I 
may write about this in a future S&T column.

With all best wishes


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