By Kai Gaarder
The April Lyrids are the last meteor shower of the season, that can be viewed under dark sky conditions from these northern longitudes. After 2 successful pre-maximum nights on April 18/19 and April 20/21, I crossed my fingers for clear skies the next two “maximum” nights. Unfortunately, April 21/22 was completely clouded out from my observation site in Norway, and the forecast for the coming night, was also very uncertain. I therefore decided to hit the road, and drive some 225 kilometers further east, across the border to Sweden.
Outside the small town of Sunne, I found an excellent observing site on a hilltop raging over 200 meters over the surroundings. After driving the steep and winding road to the top, I observed the first Lyrid when unloading my observation gear from the car at about 20:30 UT. It was a beautiful, reddish, slow moving meteor low in the northern sky. The next half hour, I used to set up my camera equipment and take some test pictures, while waiting for dark enough skies to start my visual observations. In this period, I observed another 1 mag Lyrid in Ursa Major, followed up by an amazing yellow/green -3 Mag Lyrid, that streaked across the sky from Draco and throughout Ursa Major, leaving a smoke train for several seconds! Unfortunately, my camera field was a bit too low in the sky, so I did only catch the first half of the meteor path on camera.
I had high hopes for more bright meteors, when starting my observations at 21:00 UT. However, it soon became clear that the show of bright meteors was over. In the coming 3 hours I saw 20 Lyrids, and among them only 3 were of magnitude 2 or brighter. The brightest one being a 0 magnitude, white, slow moving, near radiant meteor at 22:11 UT. Also among the sporadic, there was a lack of bright meteors, the best one being a 1 mag in the outskirts of my observation field at 22:40 UT. Despite the lack of bright meteors, I managed to catch 7 Lyrids and 2 Sporadic meteors on camera, using a Nikon D3100, with a Samyang 16mm, F 2.0 lens. A great result, considering most of these meteors are at the very detection limit for my camera lens!
The observing season is now almost over from Norway, due to bright summer skies. I am therefore very pleased to have won the race with the clouds this evening, getting 3 hours under good sky conditions, resulting in 20 Lyrids and 10 Sporadic meteors. Hopefully I will be able to observe some meteors during my vacation in Morocco in July, before the dark skies return to Norway in the middle of August. Details from my observation are presented below. Clear skies, and lucky Eta Aquariid hunting for those of you situated on more southerly longitudes!
21:00 – 22:00. Teff 1.00, F 1.00, Lm 6.06. Facing East.
- 5 Lyrids: 2(2), 3, 5, 6
- 0 Sporadics!
22:00 – 23:00. Teff 1.00, F 1.00, Lm 6.28. Facing East.
- 8 Lyrids: 0, 2, 3, 4(3), 5(2)
- 4 Sporadics: 1, 4, 5, 6
23:00 – 00:00. Teff 0.966, F 1.00, Lm 6.17. Facing East.
- 7 Lyrids: 3(2), 4(4), 5
- 6 Sporadics: 3(3), 4(2), 5
Nice report! I really liked reading your report!
I think you are a longtime meteor observer? I remember your name from the 80’s.
Nice to hear you liked my report! You are right that i was a very a very active meteor observer in the 80’s and 90’s. After observing the 1999 outburst oft the Leonids from Tenerife, there was a long period in my life where small kids, family and work took most of the time. Not until 2015, i took up observing meteors again. My renewed interest in meteor observing came when i realized the possibilities, in an easy an nonexpensive way, to catch meteors with a DSLR camera! During the Perseids in 2015, i photographed my first meteors, and in 2016 i had a very succsessful “meteor expedition” to Cyprus, with a lot of neteors caught on camera. With the new IMO website, articles about newly discovered meteor showers, Robert Lunsfords updated articles on meteor activity, and an easier IMO report form, i realized that there was a lot going on in the night sky that i would not miss! It sparked my interest in visual observations again, and i now use every opportunity to monitor the sky! Meteor astronomy seems to be a life long passion for me, always leaving me with great nature experiences, and something to look forward to!
Best regards, Kai.
Great to read that you are back into meteor work! I wish you a lot of succes (=good luck with weather) in de coming years. And I hope to hear from you again with these nice reports.
For this year I will be observing the Southern delta Aquariids from Crete. And the Geminids are also heavily marked on my calendar. I hope to observe them from the Netherlnds. But if the weather is not cooperative, I will travel to a region with a clear sky (Portugal, Spain).
Good luck and clear sky!
Hi again Koen,
Dark skies is not returning to Norway until the beginning of August, but i hope to make some observations of the SDA and CAP showers during my summer holiday in Morocco in July. I also look very much forward to the Orionids and the Geminids this autums/winter, and cross my fingers for clear skies both in Norway and in the Netherlands! Interesting to hear that you are planning to observe the SDA shower from Crete. I have loosely begun to think about a “meteor expedition” to Crete during the Perseids of 2018. I am thinking about staying in a town called Anogeia, and make observations from the vincinity of the Skinakas observatory. I would love to hear about your experiences from your trip to observe the SDA. Good luck, and clear skies!
Best wishes, Kai.
In 2001 and 2003 I observed the SDA’s from resp. Chios Island and Crete. In 2003 I had good SDA rates from Ferma, a little village at the south coast of Crete. I counted up to 15-20 SDA’s an hour around radiant culmination. This resulted in an expedition with some friends (Carl Johannink, Klaas Jobse, Michel Vandeputte, Peter van Leuteren and Felix Bettonvil) to the Roque de Los Muchachos observatory at la Palma in 2008. At the observatory we had 7 clear nights with limiting magn. up to 6,9-7,0. SDA counts up to 40-45! After this expedition we travelled in 2011 to Hakos Namibia. Two weeks under brilliant skies with some friends. Here we counted up to 50+ SDa’s an hour! I have good memories of all these expeditions.
And certainly I will write a report about my Crete observations for MeteorNews!
For 2018 I am thinking about observing the Perseïds from southern France (Provence). In 1984, 1985, 1986, 1993 (outburst Perseids), 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016 I had very good observing results from this location.
Fascinating to read about all your successful SDA expeditions! I see you got impressive rate counts under good sky conditions, so this shower will definitely be on my list when it comes to future meteor expeditions! The summer months stands out as the best time for me to make meteor excursions. This because the short and pale summer nights makes meteor observations from Norway impossible, but also the fact that i am working as a school teacher, makes it difficult to get away other than in the schools vacations. I hope i can observe my first SDA’s from Morocco this summer, although this trip is a family vacation, rather than a meteor expedition. I guess my next meteor expedition will be to to observe the Perseids under good lunar conditions in 2018. To get away from the short summer nights, both Crete and Provence should be good alternatives. I hope it is ok that i contact you later, regarding your experiences with different observing sites. I cross my fingers for good weather during your trip to Crete, and look forward to see your observing results!
Clear skies, Kai.
Yess, that is ok to contact me about Crete/Provence.|
Good luck at Morocco!