Tuesday 13 August 2013

Perseid Report 2013

I attempted to dedicate two evenings to proper Perseid observations - Sunday 11th - 12th and Monday 12th - 13th.

Sunday was a terrible disappointment. My initial reading led me to believe that this would be the best evening for observing, but as it transpired, I was clouded out for the most part, indeed my initial drink at the pub where I attempted to do some "outreach" work over a pint of a very fine Adnams ale. The clouds half cleared for about 15 minutes when I got home, and I stood outside hopefully, but I saw precisely one meteor before the clouds completely rolled in and killed off observing for the night.

I was gutted, and I was not the only one by the looks of things.

However, reports the next day suggested that the peak may be later than first though, and that the ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Maximum" rate was still increasing. So, as I had another fine pint of ale pre midnight, and was able to show a Perseid off at the pub - several were seen from here after I went home.

Me, I was a good and conscientious citizen scientist. I headed home, got out my garden chair reclined to the max, my 10x50s, and a warm jacket. I had about a third of the sky in view, the radiant to Square of Pegasus, to Ursa Major, and over the zenith to Hercules.

It was a slow start at about 1230am, and it took a few minutes to see my first meteor, but as the radiant rose higher, the view just got better and better. As I usually tend to expect from the Perseids, most meteors were fast moving, short lived, and not too far from the radiant - I find the Geminids tend to be much more widely ranged across the sky.

The typical Perseid was usually about Mag 2, and distinctly orange in colour. There were three or four much brighter, Mag 0 specimens, leaving distinct smoky trails, but sadly no spectacular fireballs for me! I observed for an hour, counting around 30 Perseids and 1 sporadic - I lost count!

In between Perseids, I got in some nice looks at Kemble's Cascade, Cassiopeia clusters, and Cygnus and Lacerta too, and all the while I listened to some interesting tech reports on the BBC World service.

All in all, it was a very rewarding night's observing, I hope many new observers were outside with a warm drink and their eyes turned skyward!

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