Version 1.7 : New Update Available

June 6th the latest version of Meteor Shower Guide was released to the App Store. This version is for iOS 9 and higher. Changes include:

  • Advanced catalog settings are saved
  • Updated color scheme and minor page layout changes
  • Fixed bug in manual location settings that caused longitude to change unintentionally
  • Minor text updates

This version is 64 bit compliant so it should run fine under iOS 11 when it arrives.

Hello world!

Website just moved to a new host today. For historical reasons I brought over the old posts.

A app update is in the works, stay tuned.

Version 1.6.0

Latest version of Meteor Shower Guide has been released to the Apple App store.  Page is still showing the last version as I write but it should update soon.

Almost one year from the last release this version addresses two main issues:

  1. With iOS version 7.0 when adding an event to calendar the app would crash.
  2. Last versions control looked dated running under iOS 7.x

With this new release all future versions will require iOS 7 or newer.  To support older devices I’ve kept the previous version available.

Version 1.5.0

August 7th the latest version of Meteor Shower Guide was released to the App Store. The new version features a revised layout and color theme.  Moon phase graphics were expanded to cover each day of moon age.

Unfortunately I did not upload new screen shots to the App Store prior to this release. I forgot that Apple now requires screen shots to be updated in a specific sequence before the app is released. There will be a 1.5.1 update next week just so I can get them updated.

Perseids 2013: When To Watch

Every night from now until mid August you can catch a Perseid meteor.  As the shower approaches maximum, this year on Monday, August 12th for North America, the show gets better.  While its fun to see a few meteors streak across the sky at night nothing beats seeing a strong meteor shower at its peak. The Perseids are special in that their peak is very broad, which means you will see a high number of meteors for many hours.  At its maximum you should see about one meteor per minute if you’re away from any city lights.

If one lives in the middle of North America, the Central Time zone, you would notice Meteor Shower Guide calculates the Perseid shower peak to be about 1:30pm. That’s the middle of the day.  So what is the best night to observe?  This year Sunday night, August 11th  into Monday morning, August 12th, is the best observing time.

Even more specific, early Monday morning in the few hours before darkness ends an observer will likely see the most Perseid meteors.  This is due to two factors. First, the spot where the Perseid meteors appear to come from, the radiant, is highest in the sky at the end of darkness. Second, the meteor shower is approaching its peak since Earth is going through the densest part of the Perseid meteoroid stream.

If you don’t want to stay up all Sunday night into Monday then I’d suggest getting up early Monday morning, before 3:00am and observe until it’s no longer dark.  That maybe the best strategy for younger observers, many people can’t stay awake all night observing the night sky and if someone falls asleep by midnight they will miss the best part of the shower.  If you want to show someone the wonders of a good meteor shower then Monday morning is the ideal time.

What about observing Monday night? That would be a good fallback plan but assuming the Perseid shower behaves as it has in past years the meteor count will not be as high. While its only 12 hours after the showers predicted peak the hourly rates will be lower since the radiant is low in the sky. As the radiant rises Monday night Earth is exiting the cloud of dust particles causing the meteor shower. So by end of darkness Tuesday morning the number of meteor’s you might see is dropping.

Observing as soon as its dark on Sunday or Monday night might result in seeing a special treat: earth grazing meteors.

As with any meteor shower the best place to observe is far away from city lights. If you can make out the Milky Way then it’s probably dark enough. That is the most important rule in watching meteor showers: the darker the sky the more meteors you will see.

Version 1.4.0

Meteor Shower Guide version 1.4.0 has been submitted for review and will be available for update in the next week.  This version supports the iPhone 5 screen size.  But, because of this update the minimum version of iOS  required has changed to 4.3.

This means older devices like iPhone 3 and iPod 2nd generation can no longer run the latest update. Do not update your app if you use the early devices.

This minimum iOS requirement is from being compiled with Xcode 4.5, an Apple requirement for iPhone 5 support. If there is enough interest I could investigate creating a new app specifically for the older hardware.

The complete change list for version 1.4.0 is noted below:

  1. Support for iPhone 5 larger screen. Catalog list and shower detail page layout updated.
  2. Updated shower detail page to fix peak time being truncated due to GMT offset value, verses shorter three letter time zone code.
  3. Improved calendar alarm detail, added note for peak day, time and location so this is immediately available in the calendar entry.
  4. Meteor shower database update: Orionids solar longitude value changed from 208.0 listed by IMO to 208.4 based on past two years observer data compiled by IMO.
  5. Minor updates to fonts and layout.

Approaching the Perseids

As July ends Earth approaches the Perseid meteoriod stream. That sounds rather complicated but its not. A meteoriod stream is somewhat like a jet contrail. With the right conditions a jet leaves a trail of water vapor behind, the trailing cloud. A comet flies through the solar system and leaves a trail of dust behind.

The Perseids meteor shower has been around a long time so its spread out a bit in space. We are already encountering parts of it but the big show is still days away.  Every day the Earth gets closer to the densest portion of the stream. The timing is pretty good this year with the moon being past last quarter and for us in the Central timezone the shower peaks in the morning.

This year the peak day occurs on a weekend so there is no excuse not to get out to a dark location and enjoy a centuries old show.

App Update: Sven reported a bug when setting the longitude manually. Oops! Clearly I missed testing any east longitudes. I’ve got a fix submitted for review and it should be out in a few days.

April’s Big Shower

This weekend the Lyrid meteor shower will peak. With a new moon and the maximum occurring on a weekend the timing couldn’t be better for meteor watching. Everyone should get out and watch.

What can you expect to see? Hard to predict exactly. On average the Lyrids are a weaker shower with one to two dozen meteors per hour. Spaceweather has a nice write up on the shower and the IMO has a  section as well. You’ll note both sources discuss the variability of the shower, that several strong outbursts have been seen in the past.

Whats interesting is the timing of the shower’s peak  is  not well established.  This suggests the orbit and spread of the meteor debris stream left by the parent comet is not well understood,  especially compared to the indepth analysis done for last years Draconid meteor shower (among others).

Weather permitting I’ll be in the Flint Hills under dark skies to observe the shower.

New Version In Review

Meteor Shower Guide version 1.3.0 has been submitted to the app store for approval and is waiting for review. Whats changed in this version:

  • New: added the moon rise and set times to the shower detail page.
  • New: a new tab for the current days sun and moon times.
  • Updated: improved the location page to allow direct entry of latitude and longitude values.
  • Updated: added a button under the catalog year wheel so one can easily return to the current year.

The website will be updated with new screen shots and information over the next few days. I added the current days sun and moon times since I always have the app with me and often want a quick report of the days events. There are a number of other apps that provide that information, I’ve tried a few of them and some are very nicely presented. Meteor Shower Guide is not trying to compete with those, it just made sense to incorporate it with the recent rewrite of the calculation code.

Update February 22: new version released.