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

α–Cygnid meteor shower

Mon, 21 Aug 2017 (60 days ago)

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Meteor Showers feed

Please wait
Loading 0/4
Click and drag to rotate
Mouse wheel to zoom in/out
Touch with mouse to dismiss
The sky at

The α–Cygnid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 August 2017. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from July to August.

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 α–Cygnid 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 65° above your north-eastern horizon at midnight. This means you may be able to see around 4 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be high in the sky, maximising the chance of seeing meteors.

The radiant of the α–Cygnid meteor shower is at around right ascension 22h50m, declination 48°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 29 days old at the time of peak activity, presenting minimal interference.

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 August 2017
Sunrise 06:27
Sunset 19:56
Twilight ends
21:33
Twilight begins
04:50

29-day old moon
Age of Moon
29 days

All times shown in EDT.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:23 13:40 19:57
Venus 03:38 10:54 18:09
Moon 06:23 13:09 19:55
Mars 05:45 12:41 19:38
Jupiter 10:43 16:23 22:04
Saturn 15:41 20:28 01:19

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