Lunar Meteor Watch

Updated July 12, 2017

Monthly Briefings and Opportunities to Observe Lunar Meteors

Now we are into the second half of 2017 and the time that features many meteor showers. For the monthly routine observations, the defined start is set at three days after New Moon until two days after First Quarter for the first half. The second half resumes two days before Last Quarter and continue until three days before New Moon. The actual duration of each observing interval will vary due to ecliptic angle, lunar elongation, and observer latitude. I am posting these plans on a quarterly basis, which provides, at a glance, the observing schedule along with any meteor showers active during the observing windows. In general the observations fall into three groups: evening, from three days after New Moon (NM) to two days after First Quarter (FQ); morning, from two days prior to Last Quarter (LQ) to three days prior to New Moon (NM); and significant shower, when the moon is favorably placed (usually during these two intervals) during annual showers (whose names will appear in bold type) with ground-based ZHR’s of 20 or more.

As of the date of the publication of this web page, the Moon is a waning gibbous, approaching last quarter in the morning sky, so the morning half of the campaign is about to get underway…

· Interval: 15 – 20 July (LQ = 17 July; NM = 23 July), morning; four annual showers are active during this period, with the peak of each after the interval..

· Interval: 26 July – 1 Aug. (NM = 23 July; FQ = 30 July), evening; Four annual showers are active at this time, with three of them peaking on July 28 or 30. These are the minor Piscid Australid, the South delta Aquarids (ZHR = 25) and the minor alpha Capricornids. The annual Perseid meteor shower has begun and is working up toward an August 12 peak.

· Interval: 13 – 18 Aug (LQ = 15 Aug.; NM = 21 Aug.), morning; only activity of note is the Antihelion Source. The Perseid meteor shower is active during this time, peaking on August 12 with a ZHR of 150.

· Interval: 24 – 31 Aug.(NM = 21 Aug.; FQ = 29 Aug.), evening; only two very minor showers are active during this time.

· Interval: 11 – 17 Sept. (LQ = 13 Sept.; NM = 20 Sept.), morning; the only activity is from a minor source, the September epsilon Perseids.

· Interval: 23 – 30 Sept. (NM = 20 Sept.; FQ = 28 Sept.), morning; the minor Southern Taurids are active at this time.

As always, check back often for any updates on activity related to these two major showers as well as any other developments.

Reports of Lunar Meteors

Sporadic Meteor Impact Candidate

I have received the following report from Dr. Anthony Cook, Department of Physics, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom: “After going through some video footage I obtained back in January
for my MPhys 4th year project student, I think we may have a possible impact flash. This was recorded on 2017Jan17 UT 17:47:18 +/- a few sec. It was in the vicinity of Wolf crater. Duration about
two 1/25 sec TV frames taken on a Watec 902H. I enclose a RGB image where red is the before frame, green is the first detection, and blue is the next frame. Haven’t had a chance to de-interlace yet and pull out 1/50th sec de-interlaced fields yet.”

The image is shown below with the candidate indicated. This may have been recorded by any group in Europe, so a confirming observation is requested. It is likely a sporadic, since no major showers were active at the time of the observation.

Possible Lunar Quadrantid Meteors

During the annual Quadrantid meteor shower early in January, the Italian-Swiss group made two detections

Candidate #1: 20170101 at 17:47:15 UT, lasted 2 integration fields (40 ms), imaged with one telescope.
Candidate #2: 20170103 at 19:18:41 UT, lasted 4 integration fields (80 ms), imaged with two telescopes.

Runs were performed from Rome (Italy), Gordola and Locarno (Switzerland). The team consists of Lena Raffaello, Iten Marco, and Sposetti Stefano
The images were obtained on 1 January 2017 at 17:47:15UT and 3 January 2017 at 19:18:41

20170101_174715 20170103_+191841

March Sporadic Meteor

Antonio Mercatali of the Unione Astrofili Italiani (UAI) group (www.uai.it) reports an observation of a suspected meteor impact flash on the lunar surface (images provided below). These appear to be a genuine meteoroid impact flash but as of this writing no known confirming observation has been submitted. The flash occurred on 12 March 2016 at 18:33:02 UT; video frame rate at 25 fps with time interval of 0.04 seconds between consecutive frames.

 
The telescope that was used is a Newtonian 200mm/1000mm at f/5 with astronomical videocamera ASI 120MM. The analysis of the video was made with the LunarScan program. Again, anyone who may have been observing the moon during this time (likely someone in Europe where the moon was visible at the time of the impact).
The flash sequence is shown below, with the event highlighted.
image_1 12 March 2016 image_2 12 March 2016

Possible North Taurid Meteoroid Impact

The Swiss-Italian lunar meteor monitoring group, consisting of observers Rafaello Lena, Stefano Sposetti and Marco Iten, reports the observations of several impact flashes, each of which was confirmed by Dr. J.M. Madiedo’s team. These events are summarized in the below table and were observed in Europe when the Moon was below the horizon for North America. However anyone monitoring the moon from North America with video and at least an 8-inch telescope had a good chance of observing impacts from the Northern Taurid meteor stream. The North Taurids are noted as being the very likely source of the impact that was the first of over 300 events to be observed by the Meteoroid Environment team at NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center ten years ago.

The four flash detected by Stefano have following selenographic coordinates from Dr. Lena’s preliminary computation using LTVT software package (Mosher and Bondo).

Impact flash: 7 November 2015 03:31:26 UT — longitude 50.9° E +/- 0.4 ° latitude 24.0° N +/- 0.4 °=> north edge of Mare Crisium about 104 km west of Eimmart crater (images courtesy of Stefano Sposetti)

2015_11_07_033126

Impact Flash: 7 November 2015 04:14:07 UT — longitude 48.8° E +/- 0.4 ° latitude 0.70° S +/- 0.3 ° => Mare Fecunditatis about 54 km north east of Messier crater

2015_11_07_041407

Impact Flash: 7 November 2015 05:06:45 UT — longitude 62.4° E +/- 0.4° latitude 4.90° S +/- 0.3 ° => Mare Fecunditatis about 130 km north of Langrenus crater

2015_11_07_050645

Impact Flash: 8 November 2015 05:14:09 UT — longitude 28.4° E +/- 0.4° latitude 7.3° S +/- 0.3 ° .=> about 83 km south of Torricelli crater

2015_11_08_051409

One additional flash event observed 15 November 2015 18:13:57UT has also been confirmed by J.M. Madiedo (image not presently available)

Many thanks to the Swiss-Italian team for their excellent work and for reporting these results

Information about opportunities to observe the Moon for meteor impacts in 2016 can be found on the ALPO Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search website linked in the next section.

 More notes on the observations of lunar meteors

Activity in this area has been quite slow as there has not been any major meteor showers occurring when the moon is favorably placed; nor has their been any spacecraft missions to the Moon (since LADEE) needing ground-based support. Nonetheless the www.alpo-astronomy.org/lunarupload/lunimpacts.htm main website does have updated information for the campaign for the current quarter of the year (July 1 thru Sep 30).

Earlier reports and images remain archived below…

I received the following report from the Impact Observers Stefano Sposetti, Marco Iten and Raffaello Lena. They report:
Marco Iten detected an interesting luminous event most probably generated by a meteoroidal impact on the Moon occurred the 26 February 2015. The position of the flash was along the terminator. The brightness of the flash 0.16 s after the initial detection was +8.0 magV. After the main lightdrop a successive residual diffuse light lasted for several seconds. Under the assumption of a meteoroidal impact, we argue that this post luminous event and its ever-growing dimensions was likely caused by the sunlight reflection on ejected materials released by the impact. Marco Iten detected it visually using no dedicated searching software.

We placed our preliminary report here: http://digilander.libero.it/glrgroup/

or directly to the pdf file: http://www.lunar-captures.com//Selenology_Today/ST_preliminary%20report_2015.pdf

Marco Iten
Raffaello Lena
Stefano Sposetti
I, Brian Cudnik, showed the video of the event to Impact Expert H. Jay Melosh of Purdue University (USA) and he agrees that this appears to be a genuine impact event, with the ejection of dust that is made visible as it rises into sunlight. He suggested making measurements to find the height of the dust cloud. This animated gif image (aka, the “video”) is presented below; click on this image to view the animated gif sequence of the impact.

2015_02_26_213522_Iten_black

Lunar Project Overview (Involvement with the LADEE mission)

The LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere Dust Environment Explorer) mission is history:

We have received official word from the Mission Operations Manager – LADEE has impacted the Moon!

Last contact, before LADEE went behind the Moon, was at DOY-108 [April 18] 04:30 UTC. Re-establishment of contact would have occurred at DOY-108 05:22 UTC.  After achieving over 140 days of science and meeting its primary mission goals, LADEE dropped into a lower orbit for the extended mission phase in order to collect high value science data at extremely low altitudes. In anticipation of impact, we have been downloading science data on each of today’s low-altitude passes to ensure that we retain as much of the collected data as possible.

The LADEE team is doing well, with a mixture of pride and melancholy (and some celebration!).

For the duration of the more than 140 days of LADEE operations Mr. Cudnik had been one of about two dozen coordinators worldwide who coordinated and collected lunar meteoroid flash observations (such as the examples shown below). The images will go a long way to support the efforts of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer team as they sift through much science data collected by LADEE (“LAH-Dee”) during its four-month mission. The aim is to correlated changes in dust concentration with impact events. The spacecraft made impact on the far side of the moon, out of view for ground-based observers. More information on this NASA mission can be obtained at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/ladee/main/#.Uw4V1uNdV8E

The work of ground based video observers to monitor the moon with low light video cameras and telescopes in the 8 to 14 inch (20 to 36 cm) size range for up to two weeks per month will continue beyond the life of LADEE. These observations will not only support the science results of LADEE but will also continue to illuminate the frequency and size of lunar meteors, among other results. This web site will continue to serve to provide near-real-time images and information as they are received from observers. The mirror site, hosted on the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) website will give dates of observations each month, background information, and other monthly updates as needed. The ALPO-based mirror site can be accessed via this URL: http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/lunarblog/lunimpacts.htm.

If you are interested in joining our efforts and want to make a scientifically useful contribution, please “tune in” to the archived workshop that was held December 5, 2013. The archive is about 4 hours in length but there is a lot of great information and discussion contained therein. View it here: http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/p4zpsnm6weh/ (you may need to copy and paste this link into your favorite browser)

Lunar Project Updates

I have not received any recent reports as of this writing aside from what I have provided below, it is possible given the weather we have been experiencing as of late, many observers may have been clouded out. Earlier observing cycles have featured impact candidates that are presented below, starting with the most recent events.

George Varros reported:

Brian, here are two candidates from Jan 5.  I don’t know what to make of them. They are both single video field events and are dim but don’t look like cosmic rays because of their nice shape and brightness centroids. They have a similar look, are dim and very short, just like the one from Jan 4.  (I’m rescanning everything using Lunarscan 1.5 after experiencing anomalies or unexpected results.)

Jan 5, 2014 00:12:26  Lat 15.321S  Lon 25.489E inside crater Cyrillus F

Jan 5, 2014 00:31:35  Lat 15.5N  Lon 20.6E

001226_candidate 003135_candidate

[Images courtesy of George Varros]

——————————————————————–

This is a detection by Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti of a probable impact event on the moon. These are members of the Swiss-Italian team of lunar observers.

———-
Date: 2014 Jan 7
UT Time: 18:19:31.0
Air mass: 1.39
Lunar coordinates: 15.5° West, 19.5° North (Mare Imbrium)
Duration: 20 ms
Brightness: –
Presence of artificial satellites along the line-of-view: none in a 3deg diameter
Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate
Sposetti’s instrument: 280mm reflector with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Images courtesy of (left) M. Iten and (right) S. Sposetti.

2014_01_07_181931_iten 2014_01_07_181931_sposetti

——————————————————————–

Lunar meteor observer George Varros reports the following impact candidate:

I found a single video field event that may or may not be an impact. It occurred on Jan 4, 2014, at 23:49:37 UT, just south of Gambart B at  Lat 0.979 Long -11.56  I uploaded and posted an image and a map, in a new folder labeled “01/04/2014 candidate”.

Although it’s only one video field, the event does not have the visual appearance of a cosmic ray in that it has a brighter center and is in a matrix of 3×3 pixels – it looks somewhat stellar.

It was not detected by Lunarscan probably because the event is only seen in the even video field – the odd field was blank along with the odd field of the next frame. The picture is dark because I probably have my gain set too low.

The map image in the folder was made using Registax and consists of 30 video frames surrounding the event, to help pinpoint it’s location and to boost the signal.

The image of the impact candidate is shown below (Image courtesy of George Varros):

234937_candidate _Varros 7 Jan 2014——————————————————————–

We received several observations of likely lunar meteor impacts in December, and the images are provided below. One impact flash was observed on December 7, and another on December 8, with both observations being made by the Swiss-Italian lunar observation team. With the following images the team reports: “Saturday, Dec 7, Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I, made some video recordings of the crescent Moon. We got good, but also poor sky conditions. 2 of us, Marco Iten and I, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten [below, right] shows a very nice bright point of light, lasting about 4 fields (ie. 80 ms). My image is a lot blurred [below, left] because of wind and strong turbulence, the flash is washed out but clearly visible at the same instant and in the same lunar region. The air mass at the moment of the detection was 3.9.

No artificial satellites were along the line-of sight inside a 3deg diameter centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash. To note that Marco Iten noticed the flash visually in real time, while looking at the laptop screen.

In summary:

———-

Date: 2013 Dec 7

UT Time: 19:31:06.6

Air mass: 3.9

Lunar coordinates: 11° West, 14° South (Mare Nubium)

Duration: 80 ms

Luminosity: –

Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti’s instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Analysis of the rest of the AVI-files is under way.

Best regards.  For the Swiss-Italian group, Stefano Sposetti

2013_12_07_193106_Sposetti_field 2013_12_07_193106_Iten_fieldCourtesy S. Sposetti (left) and M. Iten (right)

 The same group reports another probable impact event on December 8, 2013:Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I made some video recordings of the crescent Moon in the first half of December 2013. The December 8th, 2 of us, Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten shows a somewhat bright point of light, lasting about 2 fields (ie. 40 ms). The flash of light in the Sposetti’s image is less evident.

The air mass at the moment of the detection was 2.19. The geostationary satellite INTELSAT 907 was at 66arcmin from the Moon centre at the moment of the detection, i.e. outside the field of view. No other satellites were in a 3degree diameter circle centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash.

In summary:

———-

Date: 2013 Dec 8

UT Time: 19:15:58.6

Air mass: 2.19

Lunar coordinates: 18° West, 50° South (Longomontanus crater border)

Duration: 40 ms

Luminosity: –

Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti’s instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Best regards.  For the Swiss-Italian group, Stefano Sposetti

2013_12_08_191558_Sposetti 2013_12_08_191558_ItenCourtesy S. Sposetti (left) and M. Iten (right)

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