Greetings again all,
You know, I’m sure glad I have 60+ years experience trying to figure out Florida weather. Most times I need every minute of it… especially during the Geminids! This morning was a case in point. When I awoke at 0230, it was perfectly clear. Ten minutes later, it was solid overcast. The clouds were coming in off the ocean, so I reasoned that if I went inland instead of to the coastal area, I might be able to get beyond them.
So, I decided to eschew trusty Matanzas Inlet, Florida and opted for the “potato fields” of the Hastings, Florida area instead – ending up at the Deep Creek Conservation Area. When I got there, it was mostly cloudy with the moon still up in the western sky. I hung out and in fifteen minutes most of the clouds melted away just in time for me to start my hour at 0400 a. m. And for the next two hours, I had one heck of a show put on for me in the meteor department!! Soon after, Brenda Branchett joined me down in Deltona, Florida and we stayed in touch via cell phone.
All told under the lovely dark skies in two hours, between 0400 – 0600 a. m., I totaled 80 meteors, with 48 of them being Geminids! I had a gorgeous -4 Anthelion/Taurid fireball and four negative magnitude Geminds during the watch And, Brenda and I caught a strange “double satellite” during the second hour. More on that later. Here’s my data:
Observed for radiants:
EHY: eta Hydrids
HYD: sigma Hydrids
PSU: psi Ursa Majorids
XVI: Dec. chi Virginids
DSV: Dec. sigma Virginids
DLM: Dec., Leonis Minorids
DAD: Dec. alpha Draconids
Date: Dec. 10/11, 2016, Observer: Paul Jones, Location: Deep Creek Conservations Area, Hastings, Florida (about 15 miles southwest of St. Augustine, Florida), Lat: 29.69 N, Long: 81.44 W, LM: 6.8, Clear, Facing: west.
0400 – 0500 EST (0900 – 1000 UT), Teff: 1.0 hour, no breaks
28 GEM: -3, -2, +1(2), +2(8), +3(10), +4(4), +5(2)
2 HYD: +2, +4
2 ANT: -4, 0
1 DSV: +2
10 SPO: +1, +3(4), +4(4), +5
43 total meteors
The -4 ANT left a eight second long train through Hydra, both negative magnitude GEMs left short trains as did one SPO and the +2 DSV.
0500 – 0600 EST (1000 – 1100 UT), Teff: 1.0 hour, no breaks
20 GEM: -1(2), 0, +1(2), +2(4), +3(7), +4(4),
2 HYD: +2, +3
1 EHY: +2
1 DSV: 4
1 ANT: 3
12 SPO: -1, +2(2), +3(2), +4(5), +5(2)
37 total meteors
Both negative magnitudes GEMs left short trains as did the -1 SPO., yellow and blue colors were seen in the brighter ones.
Brenda recoded 20 GEMs and 7 sporadics between 4:15 and 5:45 a.m. under hazy skies from Deltona, with a -4 Gemind fireball she caught low in the south. Great job under sub-par conditions, Brenda!
As if the GEMs and all the meteors didn’t do enough to make this watch memorable, even the satellites kicked in with a rare sighting by Brenda and I of a strange formation of two satellites travelling across the sky in tandem about two degrees apart. I asked Brenda to check with Dave who knows some websites to check on satellite Passovers. Here is what he found out:
“So just to clarify what Brenda and yourself observed this morning was a spy satellite designated USA 229 the first one is listed as USA 228 DEB which turns out to be debris from the launch that apparently is caught in the same orbit and the second one was the actual satellite. Launched 04/17/2015 from air force western test range and listed under NORAD. You can go online and Google USA 229 and find out more, amazingly my search lead me to a website that allows you to track the satellite!”
All in all, was an amazing meteor watch and one that I really didn’t think we were going to be able get in. Next up is a chance to see the “night after max” of the Geminds coming up on Thursday evening, when Geminid fireballs are frequently seen in the evening sky. If clear, I’ll be out somewhere to check them out, even with the Full Moon shining away!
Clear skies, Paul