Greetings again all,
    Meteor watches can turn out to be very memorable affairs sometimes.  Anytime you get a bunch of great folks together with a major shower maximum under a glittering sky full of meteors – magic is made.  Such was the case for those of us at Matanzas Inlet (MI) on this amazing morning!
    We arrived in the trusty MI parking lot at 11:30 p.m. to moonlit skies laced with patches of cirrus haze in all directions.  Our contingent was about 16 folks strong – a half and half mixture of ACAC members and newly met guests, recruited from our outreach efforts for the sharing of the Perseid Meteor Shower with the public.  In fact, we far outnumbered the MI flounder fishermen this day and even ended up recruiting one of them to stay with us until dawn broke!
     The first couple of hours were somewhat slow as the moon sank and the cirrus dissipated.  Still, we were able to catch several long-pathed early Perseids streaking up from the radiant which was grazing the northeast horizon at that time.  We saw them all over the sky, even in the west and SW – many bright and colorful, leaving spreading trains behind them
     The 62.8% sunlit moon set at 1:43 a.m. and the action kicked in in triplicate soon after.   In short time, we were catching negative magnitude Perseid meteors popping all over the sky!  The shouted “oohs and ahhs” of the group after each awesome Perseid meteor could be heard all over the inlet, we found out later…;o).  And it only got better!
    When the PER radiant “rounded the turn” and started up the eastern sky.
the action got hot and heavy real quick!  We were catching bursts and spurts of Perseids numbering 3,4 or even 5 or more meteors popping in quick succession in every direction!  The 2 – 3 a. m. hour was a very good one with lots of bright, colorful Perseids.  I counted 63 of them in this hour – one per minute average.
    We hadn’t seen anything yet, however!  The 3 – 4 a.m. hour went straight off the charts as Perseids were popping everywhere.   Then, at 3:26 a.m. right in the middle of a nice burst of Perseids, we all saw an intense multiple flash occur along the southern horizon.  It did not look like distant “heat” lightning which we were also seeing at the time.  We were sure it had been a sensational Perseid fireball that had occurred just over our horizon, maybe -10 or even brighter!
     We were still hotly discussing that event when 17 minutes later at 3:53 a.m. we all saw it! “It” was a spectacular -7 fireball streaking across the eastern sky through Orion and Taurus going northeastward, lighting up the night.  It lasted several seconds and popped and burst and flared in multicolors – blue, orange, yellow, red and turquoise.  We all collectively went nuts!  We gave it a standing ovation!  It took us a while to calm back down after that!  It was not even a Perseid, we think it might have been a South delta Aquariid, but it definitely was one of the best meteors I have ever seen on a meteor watch!
     The Perseids then tried their best not to be outdone and they did a pretty darned good job of it! They still shot out the occasional -3 and -4 beauties, but it was in the amazing spurts of several Perseids occurring within seconds of each other that was so memorable!  Several times we had two Perseids hit at exactly the same second and occasionally even three would hit simultaneously!
     We went well into twilight during “bolide patrol” with bright Perseids hitting all around the sky and we soon had a -5 Perseid fireball shoot due south that left a long train hanging on the sky behind it!  In and of itself, it would have been spectacular enough, but it paled somewhat to what we had seen earlier!
Here are my results from the incredible 5.5 hour session:
Observed for radiants:
ERI – eta Eridanids
ANT – Anthelions
PER – Perseids
SDA: South delta Aquariids
PAU – Piscids Austrinids
NDA: North delta Aquariids
KCG: kappa Cygnids
BPE – beta Perseids
Aug 11/12 2016, Observer: Paul Jones, Location: North Bank of Matanzas Inlet, Florida, Lat: 29.75N, Log: 81.24W (approximately 18 miles south of St. Augustine, Florida). LM: variable, 6.5 to 7.0 with cirrus haze intermittent about 20 to 25 % of sky at times,  Facing west
12:00 – 1:00 a.m. EDT ( 0400 – 0500 UT)
21 Perseids
1 South delta Aquariid
1 North delta Aquariid
6 Sporadics
29 total meteors
1:00 – 2:00 a.m. EDT (0500 – 0600 UT)
47 Perseids: -3(2), -2(3), -1(3), 0(3), +1(6), 2(12), +3(11), +4(4), +5(3)
2 South delta Aquaiids: +1, +2
1 kappa Cygnid +2
6 Sporadics +1, +2(2), +3, +4(2)
56 total meteors
2:00 – 3:00 a.m. EDT (0600 – 0700 UT)
63 Perseids: -4(2), -3, -2(3), -1(4), 0(9),+1(8), +2(15), +3(12)+4(5), +5(4)
3 South delta Aquariids: 0, +2, +3
1 eta Eridanid:
8 Sporadics+2(2), +3(2), +4(3), +5
75 total meteors
3:00 – 4:00 a.m. (0700 – 0800 UT)
78 Perseids: -3(2), -2(2), -1(4), 0(9), +1(12), +2(21), +3(15), +4(9), +5(4)
3 South delta Aquariids: -7, +2, +3
1 North delta Aquariid: +3
1 Anthelion: +3
1 beta Perseid: +2
9 Sporadics: +2(2), +3(3),+4(2), +5(2)
93 total meteors
4:00 – 5:00 a.m. (0800 – 0900 UT)
95 Perseids: -3, -2(3), -1(9), 0(13), +1(13), +2(22), +3(24), +4(8), +5(2
2 eta Eridanids: +1, +3
1 South delta Aquariid: +1
1 beta Perseid +3
11 Sporadics: -2, +2(2), +3(4), +4(2), +5(2)
110 total meteors
5:00 – 5:30 a.m. (0900 – 0930 UT)
54 Perseids: -5, -3(2), -2(3), -1(5), 0(6), +1(9), +2(12), +3(9), +4(7)
5 Sporadic: 0, +2, +3, +4(2)
59 total meteors
    Overall total: 5.5 hours, 422 total meteors (overall average of 76.7 meteors per hour).  Total number of Perseids: 358 (overall Perseid hourly average: 65.1 per hour). I probably missed recording some meteors due to the excitement surrounding many of the ones we saw and/or they just plain hit so fast and/or too frequently in spurts to keep up with them all on data recording!
    Of the 358 observed PERs, 117 left visible trains (32.7%).  Several PER trains lasted anywhere from 1 to 7 seconds on the sky.  Yellow and blue were the mostly observed PER colors.
    A huge shout out goes to my fellow ACACers: Brenda Branchett, Skip Whitford, Lynne Pouliot, Beth Mansbridge, Jeff Corder, Basil Yothers and new member Jean Rahner for sharing this awesome experience, plus the many guests we welcomed and “”A.W.” a flounder fishermen who joined us for the watch and simply had the time of is life!   I think we all may have…
More later as we will be out in the morning to monitor the post-max!!
Clear skies all, Paul J in North Florida