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Monday, August 05, 2013


Australian Perseid Meteor Shower - Morning August 13, 2013

Perseid radiant as seen from Darwin at 5:00 am local time, August the 13th, looking north.Perseid radiant as seen from Brisbane at 5:00 am local time, August the 13th, looking north. Note how much lower the radiant is.

The Perseid Meteor Shower runs from July 17–August 24, and peaks on the morning of Tuesday August 13 between 4:15 am-6:45 am AEST (that's August 12, 18h15m to 20h45m UT). Despite this being a quite reasonable meteor shower in the northern hemisphere, for most of Australia the radiant is below the horizon, and only the very occasional meteor will be seen shooting up from the northern horizon.

Anyone south of Brisbane will see only the occasional meteor, say maybe one or two per hour (or less), the further north of Brisbane you are, the more meteors you will see.

You can check predictions for your local area at the NASA meteor flux estimator (choose 7 Perseids and 12-13 August 2013). People around the latitude of Darwin have the best chance of seeing meteors, possibly as many as one every 2 minutes at the peak (see table below). Next is places with the latitude of Cairns, then with the latitude of Mackay (like Port Headland and Mt Isa), and the places with the latitude of Alice Springs (again,see table below). With the early crescent Moon in the evening sky, this should be a good time to see the Perseids.

To see the meteors, you will need to be up from around 3:00 am local time on the 13th (yes, a really horrible hour of the morning), with best views 4:00 am-5:30 am. The meteor shower will be located due North, with the radiant just above the northern horizon. Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky. Closer to the date of the peak there will be live ZHR reporting from the International Meteor Organisation.

When you get up, allow at least 5 minutes for your eyes to adjust, and be patient, it may be several minutes before you are rewarded with you first meteor, then a couple will come along in quick succession. Choose a viewing spot where you can see a large swathe of sky without trees or buildings getting in the way, or with streetlights getting in your eyes. The darker the spot the better (but do be sensible, don't choose a spot in an unsalubrious park for example).

A lawn chair or something similar will make your observing comfortable (or a picnic rug spread on the ground and a nice pillow), and having a Thermos of hot coffee, tea or chocolate to swig while watching will increase your comfort. (Here's some hints on dark adaption of your eyes so you can see meteors better).

The following table show the peak rates at around 5 am local time on the mornings of the 12th, 13 and 14th of August for a number of cities. Rates will be similar at the same latitude as these cities, and rates will be intermediate at spots between these cities.

TownMorning August 12Morning August 13Morning August 14
Alice Springs7 meteors/hr13 meteors/hr8 meteors/hr
Brisbane4 meteors/hr8 meteors/hr4 meteors/hr
Cairns13 meteors/hr22 meteors/hr14 meteors/hr
Darwin18 meteors/hr30 meteors/hr18 meteors/hr
Mackay9 meteors/hr16 meteors/hr10 meteors/hr

Note, those of you who have Stellarium, the meteor shower you see when you turn on the Meteor button in the star and planet visibility dialogue is the Leonids, the radiant is only correct for 18 November, it only coincidentally is vaguely in the area of the Perseids.


No hope in Tasmania then Ian?
Tasmania is very unlikely to see any meteors from this shower at all, sorry, the radiant is too far below the horizon. There is always the chance to see one or two shooting up from below the horizon, but aside form that chance, no.
Any possibility for Adelaide?
Maybe one an hour if you are lucky
None for sydney?
Thanks very much I now know exactly where to look for them :)

I'm not sure if it was Perseid, but I was seeing one meteor every minute or so for about 20 minutes just after midnight on 10/8/2013 from a location about 70km West of Melbourne. All were originating in the norther sky and traveling north to south starting at about 30 degrees elevation.
How about Canberra?

Adelaide will most likely have too much cloud/fog cover as it has had for the past few nights and will continue to have over the next week.

Adelaide lucks out on all things astronomical sadly.

Considering moving to Cains.

back in the 1990's I was treated to my first and last meteor shower to-date and that was the Leonid's... my team traveled to Lack Cullarain for the spectacular and I was in high school then, It was amazing and fear now I will never see anything quite like it again... :(
anything tonight for melbourne?
Will we see anything tonight in Perth??
Saw about 12 very small streaks and 2 really good bright ones that traveled about 90 degrees of arc above me here in Hervey Bay between 3 and 4 am then the fog rolled in so I went back to bed.. I will be up again at 3 am for another look..
Hi Ian,

All good stuff...a couple of questions;

1. if we collide same time each year (for thousands of years)...is this a permanent trail of cosmic dust...forever traveling from somewhere to somewhere... where we just cross paths...do we know where is it from or going?
2. so what are we seeing this far south (ballarat vic) if too far over northern horizon??

I saw another great show at around 3:00 a.m. 12/8/2013 70km West of Melbourne.

There was a meteor every 3 minutes or so for about 45 minutes.

They were originating from the NE at about 40 degrees and traveling almost West. Some originated from the North but most were NE.

One was so bright that it left a visible trail that glowed for about 5 seconds. Amazing! I've only ever seen one other meteor that bright.

Again, not sure if they were Perseids or not as I'm not an astronomer, but it was worth staying up for sure.

Not much chance of seeing any tonight.... mostly cloudy at the moment here.
Thanks for the info, was checking them out at the wrong time. Im an hr north of cairns at altitude and in the bush so fingers crossed tomm morning will be worth the wait

Hi there,
Im located 45min north of Newcastle, NSW and for 2 nights straight I have photographed several meteors that I believe to be from Perseids but have also caught some very bright red fireballs in the sky that I believe to be meteors from perseids but have no tail and did not appear like a normal meteor (streaking across the sky)but more like fireballs appearing moving across the sky then disappearing. First night I didnt know what they were but last night I had photographed as many as possibly 15 fireballs in about 20 minutes. It was quite a thing to see.
Up at 3am again but cloud spoiled everything..Saw 1 good one then it clouded over so back to bed..Maybe next year..
I saw a meteor or something on the 6th of August at 6.03pm from Springwood. Did anyone else see this as it looked like it would have come down around North Stradbroke Island or even inland. Very curious if anyone else was this.
hi on the 13th November at 7.30 5 large orange lights all in a row past over Mackay they came from the east on over to the west disappearing into the cloud can you help me with what they could have been
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