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2017 Alpha Aurigids and September Perseids

Alpha Aurigids    A minor meteor shower that occasionally produces stronger displays

Main Activity Dates Aug 25 to Sep 10
Peak Rates Aug 31
Peak ZHR 5
Best Observed Rates Late in the night of Aug 31 - Sep 1
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night, but radiant is low in sky before midnight
Moonlight issues at Maximum minor - waxing gibbous Moon in Sagittarius

September (Epsilon Perseids)   A minor meteor shower that produced a somewhat stronger display in 2013

Main Activity Dates Sep 5 - 21
Peak Rates Sep 9
Peak ZHR 5
Best Observed Rates Late in the night of Sep 9-10
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night, but radiant is low in sky before midnight
Moonlight issues at Maximum Severe - waning gibbous Moon in Pisces

September is often overlooked by many meteor observers due to there being no major meteor showers active. However, it is around this time of the year that sporadic background activity peaks and a number of minor meteor showers are also active.

The Alpha Aurigids start in August and peak at the August/September transition. Moonlight circumstances are fairly good in 2017. Despite the Moon having passed first quarter on Aug 29, it will be low in the sky in Sagittarius on the night of maximum and setting by around midnight, leaving the sky moon-free for when Auriga has become higher in the sky.  Dramatic enhancements of Alpha Aurigid activity have been seen in some years, but none are predicted for 2017. The radiant is at RA 06h04m, Dec +39 .

The September Perseids (sometimes referred to as the Epsilon Perseids) peak around the 9th of the month. The shower is properly observable from the UK by 22h UT, and can be watched thereafter all night. A stronger than usual display from this shower was detected in 2013. A Full Moon restricted observations in 2014, but nothing unusual was reported. Similarly, nothing unusual occurred in 2015 or 2016. Moonlight circumstances are poor in 2017. Full Moon occurs on Sep 6 and by the night of maximum the gibbous Moon in Pisces) will be rising soon after it gets dark.

A chart showing the radiant location is shown below - note that at maximum the radiant lies close to beta Per (Algol) rather than Epsilon Persei.

Later in the month we start to see the start of activity associated with numerous meteoroid trails left behind over the millennia by comet Encke. Indeed, from mid September the IMO lists the Southern Taurid shower, rather than listing the more general Antihelion source in its shower listing.