The Alpha Scorpid Meteor Shower

One very much overlooked shower that is active at the same time as the eta Aquarids is the alpha Scorpid shower. The reason for this is that from the northern hemisphere, the radient is very low to the horizon and so little activity will be observed. In fact, during the mid-1970's certain northern hemisphere meteor observers refused to believe that this shower existed as they did not observe much activity!

The alpha scorpids are a very longlasting shower that is active from mid-April until mid-May, reaching a broard maximum ZHR of about 25 about April 30. What makes the shower particularly noticeable is the high proportion of bright meteors from the radient. Although it is almost unknown to northern hemisphere observers, this shower would undoubtably be much better known if it did not have to compete with the eta Aquarids. The images below are from 1981 and show a -4 magnitude alpha scorpid meteor captured by accident while I was trying to photograph eta Aquarids.

10 minutes exposure, Kodak Tri-x film.
50mm f/2 Nikkormat lens.

The bright star to the upper left is Altair, while delphinus is just below left of centre. In the lower right-hand cornor is beta aquarii.

The meteor produced a train that lasted for nearly 2 minutes. Enough time for me to stop gaping and take another photograph. Note however that although I thought of taking a second photograph, I did not think to put the train in the centre of the image!

4 minutes exposure, Kodak Tri-x film.
50mm f/2 Nikkormat lens.