It’s not known how many meteors per hour may be seen during this event. When this shower was first observed in 1956, there were about 100 meteors per hour. However, since then it hasn’t been so spectacular.
This year, it is worth a look though. The International Meteor Organization reports that several encounters with dust trails are calculated for the 2019 Phoenicids. The estimated meteors per hour may reach 12. Phoenicid Meteors are extremely slow.
You don’t need a telescope or binoculars to see a meteor shower. It’s a great time to gather with friends, roll out your favourite picnic rug, pack the drinks and snacks, and start counting how many “shooting stars” you all see! Fingers crossed for a spectacular show!
It’s best to view a meteor shower under a dark night sky. Most meteors will be quite faint so darker surroundings will make it easier to see them. You might consider heading out to a dark sky location at one of WA’s Astrotourism Towns. If you’re an astrophotographer, it is an excellent opportunity to image meteors over some of WA’s iconic landscapes. Where are WA’s Astrotourism Towns?
When to look: After sunset to the early hours of the morning, Monday 2nd December 2019. On the 2nd, the Moon sets at midnight. After this, it will make it a bit easier to see fainter meteors.
Which direction to look: South
The Phoenicids peak on the 2nd but try nights either side as well.
What is a meteor shower?
Meteors are caused by debris entering Earth’s atmosphere. The debris can be as small as a grain of sand which burns up in the atmosphere and causes a bright streak of light to appear briefly in our night sky. The debris that causes a meteor can be travelling between 11 to 73 km/second.
A meteor shower is a time when you see lots of “shooting stars”. They are the result of Earth passing through the trail of debris left by a comet or other object that has come into our Solar System and orbited around the Sun.
Meteor showers are named after the constellation where the “shooting stars” appear to be coming from. In the case of the Phoenicids Meteor Shower, the meteors come from the direction of the constellation of Phoenix. If you have a handy smart phone app that helps you identify objects in the night sky, search for Phoenix, and you’ll be looking in the right location.
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Become a Citizen Scientist and report meteor sightings! If you happen to see a very bright meteor (often referred to as a “fireball”), WA’s Fireballs in the Sky team based at Curtin University would love to know! Download the Fireballs in the Sky App and keep your eyes peeled!