The Geminids weather shower from 2018 recorded during two very cold hours on the side of the Lütispitz mountain in Switzerland. (Flickr / Lukas Schlagenhauf)
The year begins with a bang with Quadrants, the first of three great meteor shower rounds. Active while the Moon is new, gives the observers from the Northern Hemisphere a show that can be admired during the cold winter nights. Unfortunately, the shower is not visible from the southern sky.
The other two members of the big three – Perseids and Geminids – are not so lucky this year, and the moonlight is embarrassing and reducing their spectacle.
With this in mind, where and when should you watch the best meteorite deals in 2019? Below we present the most important events planned this year – showers that are likely to have a good show.
What to remember
We provide details of the full forecast period for each shower and the maximum forecast. We also provide maps of the sky, showing where to look and give the theoretical peaks that can be seen under ideal viewing conditions – a number known as the zenith or ZHR rate.
It is important to remember that the ZHR is the theoretical maximum number of meteors that can be expected per hour for a given shower, unless it would surprise us with an unexpected explosion!
In fact, the feet you observe will be lower than the ZHR – but your sky will be brighter and darker, the higher the heater in the sky, the closer to the ideal value.
For every shower to see the best rates, try to find a good dark place (the darker the better) – far away from streetlights and other illuminations.
When you are outside, give your eyes a lot of time to adjust to the darkness – half an hour should do the job.
Showers that can really only be seen from one hemisphere or the other are marked by any of them [N] or [S]while those that can be seen around the world are marked as [N/S].
You can download the ics file and add it to your calendar to receive information about when the meteoric precipitation is due.
Active: from December 28 to January 12
Maximum: January 4, 2:20 am (2:20 GMT, 3:20 CET)
ZHR: 120 (variable, can reach ~ 200)
Parent: It's complicated (comet 96P / Macholz and asteroid 2003 EH1)
Despite being one of this year's three most active annual flights, quadrantids are often overlooked and underestimated. This is probably due to the fact that their peak fell during the depth of winter in the northern hemisphere, when the weather is often less than ideal for observing meteors.
For most of the two weeks they are active, Quadrantid rates are very low (less than five per hour). The top itself is very short and sharp, much more so than with other major large showers a year. As a result, rates exceed one quarter of the maximum ZHR for just eight hours, concentrated during peak hours.
The radius of the quadrant lies in the northern constellation Boötes, the shepherd, and is approximately (never occurs) for observers on the side of 40 degrees to the north. As a result, observers in northern Europe and Canada can see quadrantids at any time of the night. The beam is highest in the sky (and the rates are the best) in the hours after midnight.
For this reason, this year's peak (at 2:20 in the morning) is best suited for observers in northern Europe – and given that the peak values can exceed 100 per hour, it is certainly worth setting an alarm to get up in the cold hours early and watch how the show evolves.
(Delivery: Office NASA / MSFC / Meteoroid Environments / Danielle Moser and Bill Cooke)
Alpha Centaurs [S]
Active: from January 31 to February 20
Maximum: February 8, 1:00 pm UT (WA: February 8, 9 PM, QLD: February 8, 23.00, NSW / ACT / Vic / Tas: February 9, 12.00)
ZHR: Variable; usually 6, but may exceed 25
Alfa Centaurs are a small meteor shower, producing typical doses of just a few meteors per hour. But they are famous for being the source of spectacular fireballs for observers from the southern hemisphere, which is why it's worth keeping an eye on the southern summer sky.
Alpha centaurs are fast meteors and are often bright. As with most sprays that are visible only from the southern hemisphere, they remain poorly explored. Although they usually bring low rates, several blasts occurred when stakes reached or exceeded 25 per hour.
Alpha Centaurs are well distributed in the southern hemisphere. This view comes from Brisbane after the maximum activity time.
(Provided: Museums Victoria / Stellarium)
Shower radiation lies near the bright star Alpha Centauri – the closest star to the naked star in the solar system and the third brightest star in the night sky.
Alpha Centauri is just 30 degrees from the southern blue pole. As a result, the radiator is generally unsuitable for observers throughout Australia. The best feet will be visible from late evening when the ray rises higher into the southern sky.
This year, the Alpha Centaurids peak coincides with New Moon, making it the perfect time to check out this small but fascinating shower.
Eta Aquariids [S preferred]
Active: from April 19 to May 28
Maximum: May 6, 2pm UT (WA: May 6, 22.00, QLD / NSW / ACT / Vic / Tas May 7, 12.00)
Parent: Kometa 1P / Halley
Eta Aquariids is probably the most forgotten year, especially for observers in the southern hemisphere. The first of two annual showers produced by the 1P / Halley comet, Eta Aquariids provides excellent prices throughout the week around their peak.
The radiation rises in the early hours of the morning, after the maximum time of forecast, and the best rates are visible when the sky begins to shine with light at dawn. It may be worth getting up early to watch them, because rates can go up to 40 to 50 meteors an hour before the brightening sky will not load the screen.
The Eta Aquariid metals are quick and often clear, and the shower regularly rewards those who want to get up early. Spectacular meteors grazing on the ground, which tear from one side of the sky to the other, can be seen soon after the ray rises above the horizon.
This year, the conditions are perfect to observe the shower, and the new moon will fall on May 4, just two days before the forecast. As a result, the entire week around the summit will be suitable for morning observation sessions, giving observers many opportunities to see the fall of tiny fragments of the most famous of the comets.
Aquariums of the South Delta, Piscis Austrinids and Kapryfoldy alpha [N/S; S favoured]
Active: from the beginning of July to mid-August
Maximum: from July 28 to 30
Connected to ZHR: 35
Parent: Comet 96P / Macholz (Aquariids of the Southern Delta); Unknown (Piscis Austrinids); Comet 169P / NEAT (Alpha Capricornids)
In most years the approach from August is announced by live meteorite observers as building up to Perseids – the second of three great showers this year. This year, the moonlight will disturb, spoiling most observers.
But this cloud has a silver lining. Two weeks before the Perseid Summit, three relatively small showers meet to provide excellent mid-winter displays to observers from the southern hemisphere. This year, the Moon is perfectly positioned to allow observation.
These three showers – Aquariids of the South Delta, Alpha Capricornids and Pisces Austrinids – favors observers in the southern hemisphere, although they can also be observed from the northern latitudes.
Regardless of the location, the best prices for these showers are visible in the hours after midnight. Reasonable rates are beginning to be visible to observers from the southern hemisphere from the 22nd local time.
South Delta Aquariids are the most active of these three, producing up to 25 fast, bright meteors per hour at the summit, which include five days collected on July 30.
In turn, alpha caprices produce lower rates, usually contributing only five meteors per hour. But where the Aquariids of the South Delta are fast, alpha caprices are very slow meteors and are often spectacular.
Like Centaury Alpha, in February they have a reputation for producing a large number of spectacular fireballs. This tendency to produce meteors, which are both very bright and slow moving, makes them an excellent target for both astrophotographers and naked eye observers.
Active: from September 10 to December 10
Maxima: October 10 (Southern Taurids); November 13 (North Taurons)
ZHR: 5 + 5
Parent: Comet 2P / Encke
Taurids are probably the most fascinating of all the annual meteor showers. Although they only provide relatively low rates (about five per hour from each of the two streams, north and south), they do so for an unusually long period – three full months of activity.
In other words, the Earth spends a quarter of a year passing through the Taurid stream. In fact, we cross the stream again in June, when the shower meteors are lost because they are visible only in daylight.
So one-third of our planet's orbit is spent by a wide stream of debris, commonly known as Taurid. In total, the Taurida stream accumulates more meteor material mass into our planet's atmosphere than all other meteor showers in total.
The Taurid stream is huge, whose speculation arose from the cataclysmic disintegration of a large-sized comet, thousands or tens of thousands of years in the past, and the current shower is a relic of this ancient event.
Taurida meteors are slow and often spectacularly bright. Like the Alpha Capricornids, they have a reputation for regular fireballs, which makes them another good target for a beginner astrophotographer.
Instead of having a single, sharp peak, Taurid activity stays at the maximum level of the northern and southern streams, or approaches them at the peak of the month, which means you can always find time when the moonlight does not interfere with the observation of the shower.
Active: from December 4 to December 17
Maximum: December 14, at 1840 UT (QLD: December 15, 4:40 am, NSW / ACT / Vic / Tas: December 15, 5:40)
Parent: Asteroid 3200 Phaethon
Another of the three great annual meteor shower, Geminids are probably the best, and the highest rates in recent years exceed 140 meters per hour.
Geminids are visible from both hemispheres – although the radiator rises much earlier for northern observers. Even in the south of Australia, the ray rises well before midnight, giving all observers the rest of the night so that they can enjoy the spectacle.
Moonlight will seriously disrupt the peak of the shower this year, removing weaker meteors, resulting in lower rates than the ZHR would suggest.
But the shower regularly produces abundant bright meteors and gives such high rates that it's still worth checking out, even through the moon's full glow.
Active: December 17 down December 26
Maximum: December 23, 3:00 in the morning
Parent: Comet 8P / Tuttle
The last shower of the year – Ursids – is a feast for observers from the Northern Hemisphere. Like the shower that started our journey all year round, the Quadrants, Ursids remain poorly respected, often lost by the gloomy winter weather that plagues many northern latitudes.
But if the sky is clear, the Ursids are visible all night, because their rays are only 12 degrees from the north pole of blue. As such, they make a tempting target for observers to check in the evening, even if the radius is highest in the early hours of the morning.
For most years, the Ursids are a relatively small shower, and peak levels rarely exceed ten meteors per hour. Over the last century, they threw away several surprises, and sporadic bursts of moderately fast meteors produced degrees of up to hundreds of meteors per hour.
While no such explosion is expected in 2019, Ursida has turned out to be a shower with a surprise or two left to show, so it can be an exciting way to end this quick year.
Jonti Horner is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Southern Queensland, and Tanya Hill is an honorary member of the University of Melbourne and a senior curator (Astronomy) at the Museum Victoria. This song appeared for the first time in The Conversation.
planets and asteroids,