Eta Carinids

Observing

The duration of this meteor shower extends from January 14-27. Maximum seems to occur around January 21, from RA=160 deg, DECL=-59 deg, with ZHRs of 2-3.

History

This stream was discovered by C. S. Nilsson (University of Adelaide, South Australia) from radio-echo observations made at Adelaide Observatory in 1961. Three meteor orbits indicated a radiant of RA=156 deg, DECL=-65 deg, and a possible nodal passage on January 19.

The Eta Carinids were again noted when radio observations were made at Adelaide Observatory during 1969, by G. Gartrell and W. G. Elford. On this occasion the equipment operated only during January 21-23, but 3 meteors were again detected, this time from an average radiant of RA=160 deg, DECL= 63 deg. The authors noted a similarity between this stream and other streams detected in December and February and suggested they made up a family of high-inclination, low-eccentricity streams.

The first visual observations of this stream were made by Michael Buhagiar (Perth, Western Australia). From observations made during 1969-1980, he determined the duration as January 14-28, with a maximum of only 1 per hour coming on January 21. The average position of the radiant was given as RA=163 deg, DECL= 57 deg when at maximum.

Members of the Western Australian Meteor Section (WAMS) obtained an excellent set of observations of this shower during 1979. Meteors were observed during January 14-27, from an average radiant of RA=160 deg, DECL=-58 deg. Meteors were most numerous on the night of January 25/26, when the ZHR reached 1.77+/-0.25. Under skies with visual limiting magnitudes ranging from 5.0 to 6.5, observers detected 16 meteors and determined the average meteor magnitude as 3.75 (the brightest meteors were of magnitude 2). None of the meteors left trains and all seemed white in color. The shower was again observed during January 19-27, 1980. On this occasion, a maximum ZHR of 3.03+/-0.23 meteors was noted on January 21, from an average radiant of RA=160 deg, DECL=-59 deg. Although observed during 1982, the shower was virtually nonexistent during the interval of 1983-1986.