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

Pheonicid meteor shower

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Meteor Showers feed

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The Pheonicid meteor shower will be active from 28 November to 9 December, producing its peak rate of meteors around 2 December.

Over this period, there will be a chance of seeing Pheonicid meteors from anywhere where the shower's radiant point – in the constellation Phoenix – is above the horizon. Unfortunately, however, it will not be visible from Cambridge at any time, since its radiant point never rises above the horizon.

The radiant of the shower

Meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left in the wake of comets and asteroids. Over time, these pieces of grit-like debris distribute themselves along the length of the parent object's orbit around the solar system.

Shooting stars are seen whenever one of these pieces of debris collides with the Earth, typically burning up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, upon impact with the upper atmosphere.

On certain days of the year, the Earth's orbit passes through particularly dense streams, associated with comets or asteroids which have vented particularly large amounts of solid material to space, and this gives rise to an annual meteor shower. The shower recurs on an annual basis, whenever the Earth passes the particular point in its orbit where it crosses the stream of material.

All of the meteors associated with any particular meteor shower appear to radiate outwards from a common point on the sky, which points back in the direction from which their orbital motion brought them.

This is because all the meteors are travelling in almost exactly the same direction when they cross the Earth's orbit, owing to having very similar orbits to the parent object they came from. They strike the Earth from almost exactly the same direction, and at the same speed.

By determining the position of this radiant point on the sky, it is possible to work out the orbit of the stream giving rise to any particular meteor shower. It is sometimes even be possible to identify the particular body responsible for creating the debris stream, if there is a known comet or asteroid with a very similar orbit.

The radiant of the Pheonicid meteor shower is at around right ascension 01h10m, declination 53°S, as shown by the green circle on the planetarium above.

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 around this distance from the radiant that the most meteors will be seen.

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The sky on 02 December 2017
Sunrise
06:54
Sunset
16:11
Twilight ends
17:51
Twilight begins
05:13

14-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

97%

14 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:29 12:53 17:16
Venus 06:08 10:55 15:42
Moon 16:03 23:07 04:58
Mars 03:03 08:34 14:04
Jupiter 04:24 09:34 14:44
Saturn 08:12 12:47 17:22
All times shown in EST.

Source

The International Meteor Organisation's List of Meteor Showers.

Image credit

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

Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
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42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

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