© Jacek Halicki 2016. Perseid meteor seen in 2016 from Poland.

Piscid meteor shower

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 (575 days ago)

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Ashburn
The sky at

The Piscid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 September 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from September to October.

Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars.

By determining the speed and direction at which the meteors impact the Earth, it is possible to work out the path of the stream through the Solar System and identify the body responsible for creating it. To date, however, the parent body responsible for creating the Piscid shower has not been identified.

Observing prospects

The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 5 per hour (ZHR). However, this assumes a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the meteor shower is directly overhead. In practice, the number of meteors you are likely to see is lower than this, and can be calculated from the ZHR formula.

From Ashburn (click to change), the radiant of the shower will appear 45° above your south-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 3 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.

The radiant of the Piscid meteor shower is at around right ascension 00h10m, declination 0°N, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above.

The Moon will be 20 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting significant interference in the pre-dawn sky.

To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

The sky on 21 September 2016
Sunrise
06:56
Sunset
19:07
Twilight ends
20:37
Twilight begins
05:26

20-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

74%

20 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:47 12:08 18:28
Venus 09:19 14:48 20:17
Moon 23:04 05:09 12:04
Mars 14:17 18:48 23:19
Jupiter 07:13 13:16 19:19
Saturn 12:50 17:42 22:35
All times shown in EDT.

Source

The Handbook of the British Astronomical Association.

Image credit

© Jacek Halicki 2016. Perseid meteor seen in 2016 from Poland.

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme