(meteorobs) NAMN Notes: January 2006

C.L. Hall chall at cyberus.ca
Mon Jan 9 13:27:28 EST 2006

NAMN Notes:  January 2006

NAMN Notes is a monthly newsletter produced by the North American Meteor
Network, and is available both via email, and on the NAMN website at:


1.  Happy New Year!...
2.  Quadrantids...
3.  Other January Showers...
4.  Cloudy Night Web Reading...
5.  Index to 2005 Articles.......
6.  Upcoming Meetings...
7.  For more info...

1.  Happy New Year!...

Welcome to 2006!  NAMN, our North American Meteor Network, wishes you all a
'Happy New Year'!

Our NAMN team - Mark Davis, Lew Gramer, Kevin Kilkenny and Cathy Hall - wish
you all many clear nights and many meteors for the months ahead.

This coming year will also be a very special one for NAMN Notes.  December
2006 will be our 100th issue.  We hope to bring you a variety of interesting
articles throughout the year - both for the seasoned observers and for all
you beginning observers out there.

Your feedback and comments are always welcome - and all your observations
are encouraged!  It is through new observers that we expand and prosper.
New observers are the future of our meteor community.  Whether those
observers concentrate on visual observations (such as those we concentrate
on at NAMN), or whether those new observers branch out into more technical
areas such as telescopic, photographic, video, or radio meteors, we need you

Your NAMN Coordinator, Mark Davis at meteors at comcast.net, is always
available to answer any questions you may have, as are all the rest of us at

Have a great year - and keep in touch!

2.  Quadrantids...

The Quadrantids (QUA) are the highlight of the New Year celebration!  They
peak on January 3rd at about 18h 20m UT, Universal Time, which means 1.20
p.m. EST for observers in eastern North America.  The duration of the shower
is from January 1st to 5th.  These are average velocity meteors, at about 41
km per second.

This shower has a sharp peak, so geographic location plays a key role in the
rates that you will see at the maximum.  Note that for eastern North
American observers, the peak occurs just after lunch, ie. daytime.  The
favored locations for the peak will be eastern Asia and the far East.
However - all observations are encouraged to monitor this shower for
surprises.  The telescopic meteors from this shower may peak up to 14 hours
earlier, which would be about 11.20 p.m. EST on January 2nd - nighttime in
North America.  And - some years have produced a radio peak about 9-12 hours
after the visual peak.

ZHR rates at the peak - and only for a handful of hours - are about 120
meteors per hour, but can vary from about 60 to 200 per hour.  This is a
hard shower to catch - but a real reward when you do.  For new observers,
what is ZHR?  ZHR stands for Zenithal Hourly Rate, and is the number of
meteors that an observer would expect to see, on the average, in an hour of
observing, with the unaided eye, if they are out observing away from city
lights, under a nice dark country sky, and if the radiant, the area in the
sky where the meteors seem to come from, is directly overhead.

The radiant at the peak will be at 230 degrees, ie. RA 15h 19.8m, Dec. +49,
which is northern Bootes.  A map of the radiant can be found at

Note that most meteor observing is done using just the unaided eye.
Information on specialized observing (such as telescopic, photographic,
video and radio) can be found on the website of the IMO, the International
Meteor Organization, at http://www.imo.net.  Want to try something new for
2006?  Check out some of these projects on the IMO website.  The IMO
also provides visual info, and the IMO 2006 Meteor Shower Calendar, the
definitive source of meteor information for observers around the globe.

If you want to record visual data for the meteor researchers,
check out our NAMN Observing Guide for information on what to record.  Our
Guide can be found at http://www.namnmeteors.org/guide.html.  We record such
info as the time a meteor occurred, its magnitude (brightness), the shower
it belongs to, its speed, and other comments such as train left behind, or
color.  General information to record includes such things as how dark your
perceived sky is (limiting magnitude), and comments on weather and cloud
cover.  If you have any questions, drop a note to our NAMN Coordinator at
meteors at comcast.net

NAMN has some good star charts to mark your radiants on before you go
out observing.  These charts also show constellations for the whole sky, and
give the brightness of a number of stars to use in judging the magnitude of
the meteors you see.  Our 4 printable charts can be found at
http://www.namnmeteors.org/charts.html.  Set your printer to 'landscape'

Forms to record your observations can be found at
http://www.namnmeteors.org/namn_form.html and

3.  Other January Showers...

The Coma Berenicids (COM), although having reached a peak back on December
19th, can still be seen until about January 23rd.  These are fast meteors,
at about 65 km per second.  At their peak, ZHR rates were about 5 meteors
per hour.  Rates in January will be less.  This shower is possibly
associated with Comet Lowe, 1913 I, discovered by an amateur astronomer in
south Australia.  A map showing the radiant can be found at

The delta Cancrids (DCA) peak on January 17th, and can be seen from about
the 1st to the 24th.  These are slow meteors, at about 28 km per second.  At
the peak, ZHR rates will be about 4 meteors per hour.  The radiant on the
17th will be at 130 degrees, ie. RA 8h 40.2m, Dec. +20, which is about the
same location as the star cluster known as M44, the Beehive Cluster.  This
shower is considered to be 'probably an early part of the Virginid
activity', according to the IMO, the International Meteor Organization.  The
IMO mentions that 'recent observations have suggested the peak may occur
close to... January 11', so observers should be alert around both dates.  A
map of the radiant can be found at http://www.imo.net/calendar/2005/winter

The alpha Centaurids (ACE) start to become active about January 28th, but
will not reach a maximum until February 8th.  These are fast meteors, at
about 56 km per second.  ZHR rates are variable.  At the peak, the rates are
usually about 6 meteors per hour, but outbursts of 20 to 30 an hour have
occurred.  Rates in late January will be lower, but should be monitored.
Many of these meteors are very bright, even fireballs.  Note that this is a
southern shower, with a radiant declination of about -59 degrees.  A map of
the radiant can be found at http://www.imo.net/calendar/2005/winter

Lastly, the Virginids (VIR) start to become active about January 25th, and
will last until about April 15th.  These are almost slow meteors, at about
30 km per second.  ZHR rates are about 5 meteors per hour.  On January 30th,
the radiant will be at 157 degrees, ie. RA 10h 28.2m, Dec +16, which is
about 6 degrees up to the left of Regulus in Leo on a star atlas.

For other minor showers not on the IMO, the International Meteor
Organization, 'Working List of Visual Meteor Showers', and for a wealth of
historical information on all showers, check out Gary Kronk's 'Comets and
Meteor Showers' website at http://comets.amsmeteors.org

Besides January's main activity, and other minor showers, there is also
sporadic meteor activity.  This sporadic meteor activity is about 7 meteors
per hour, visible to the unaided eye.  Some of these are random, and some
belong to old untraceable meteor showers.

Planets at midmonth, and their magnitudes, for northern observers, are:
Jupiter       -1.9  in Libra
Mars         -0.3  in Aries
Saturn       -0.1  in Cancer
For a sky chart showing the positions of all the planets visible this month,
go to http://www.heavens-above.com, select your country, then your city, and
go to 'Whole Sky Chart'.

The phases of the moon for January are as follows:
Fri.   Jan.  6    first quarter
Sat.  Jan. 14   full moon
Sun. Jan. 22   last quarter
Sun. Jan. 29   new moon
For a great printout of moon phases for the month, check out

4.  Cloudy Night Web Reading...

For those cloudy nights or snowy nights or nights when you're all fogged
in... here are some web links to some interesting meteor and impact reading
and images.  Enjoy!

Meteorite art on stamps and coins:

Interview with a 'meteorite person':

Interview with the Curator of meteorites at the Vatican:

NEO's - Near Earth Objects, the facts:

NEO's - an educational animated presentation:

The world of Jim Scotti - the Spacewatch program - and his comet art:

Photos of meteorite craters - pick a continent, then pick a crater:

Today's map of near-earth asteroids (feeling lucky today?):
and the Armagh Observatory team:

and lastly,
A link list for meteors, comets and all your impact needs!

5.  Index to 2005 Articles...

The following is an index to articles that appeared in the 2005 issues of
NAMN Notes.  The issues can be found at

January 2005
Quadrantids, January's Highlight...
Other January Activity...
Index to 2004 Articles...

February 2005
February Meteor Activity...
Winter Comets to Check Out...

March 2005
March Meteor Activity...
Meteor Workshop at the IMC...
Polar Comet in March...
Reading for Snowy Nights...

April 2005
Spring Brings the Lyrids...
Other April Showers...
International Astronomy Day...

May 2005
Eta Aquarids - Halley's Debris...
Other May Showers...

June 2005
June Bootids - A Surprise?...
Other June Showers...

July 2005
Welcome to Summer!...
Summer and the Aquarids...
Other July Activity...

August 2005
Perseids - Highlight of the Summer!...
Meteors from Aquarius...
Other August Showers...

September 2005
Autumn's Aurigid Meteor Showers...
More on Aries-Triangulid & September Taurid Meteors - by G.W. Gliba...
Other September Showers...

October 2005
Draconids - Any Surprises This Year?...
Orionids - Debris from Halley's Comet...
Watch for Taurid Fireballs...
Other October Activity...

November 2005
Leonids - Moonlight but Monitor...
Taurids - Watch for Fireballs...
Alpha Monocerotids - 10 Year Periodicity?...
Other November Activity...

December 2005
Geminids - the Winter Gem...
Ursids, our Christmas Shower...
Other December Activity...
New Year's Alert for the Quadrantids...

6.  Upcoming Meetings...

June 8-14, 2006, Ostersund, Sweden...
The Workshop on Impact Craters as Indicators for Planetary Environmental
Evolution and Astrobiology will be held in Ostersund, Sweden.  Sessions
include terrestrial craters, craters on other planetary bodies, the
influences of the impact on the target area, the target area on the fate of
the projectile, and the properties of the impactor on the cratering process,
other consequences (eg. tsunamis), environments created by the impact and
their importance for life, and astrobiological aspects of impact cratering.
There will be two study field trips to the Lockne Crater, and an excursion
to the GeoCenter-Lockne Impact Crater Museum.  For information, check out
the website at http://www.geo.su.se/Lockne2006 and contact Dr. Jens Ormo of
the Planetary Geology Laboratory, CSIC/INTA, Madrid, Spain at ormo at inta.es

For information on upcoming astronomy meetings, see: "International
Astronomy Meetings List" at http://cadcwww.hia.nrc.ca/meetings

7.  For more info...

NAMN email: namn at namnmeteors.org
NAMN website: http://www.namnmeteors.org

Mark Davis, meteors at comcast.net
Goose Creek, South Carolina, USA
Coordinator, North American Meteor Network

Cathy Hall, chall at cyberus.ca
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Writer, NAMN Notes

Lew Gramer, dedalus at alum.mit.edu
Homestead, Florida, USA
Coordinator, Public Outreach
Owner/Moderator, 'MeteorObs'

Kevin Kilkenny, namnfireball at earthlink.net
Staten Island, New York, USA
Coordinator, Fireballs and Meteorites

Back issues of NAMN Notes can be found online at the NAMN website and in
the MeteorObs archives at:
http://www.meteorobs.org by selecting 'Browse Archive by Month'

To subscribe to the meteor email list:
Contact Lew Gramer at: dedalus at alum.mit.edu

Here's to 'Clear Skies' for January...

January 2006 NAMN Notes
written by Cathy Hall & edited by Mark Davis

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