A windy night with bright meteors!

The third night of my Perseid expedition to Crete, was going to be a very memorable one. When walking towards my observation site, I realized that the gusts of wind were even stronger than the previous night. Just walking straight forward with my camping bed was difficult, because the wind used the bed as a sail. Setting up my observation equipment was a nightmare. One foot was placed on the camping bed, holding it still while setting up my camera tripod. Just when everything seemed up and running, my pillow borrowed from the apartment owner, blew away into some bushes 15 meters away. I could not leave my camping bed and camera equipment without holding on to it, so I had to pack it down again, and run for the pillow! Starting all over again, I was finally ready to start observing 21:00 UT under clear skies.

Observations 21:00 UT – 00:00 UT

After only 6 minutes of observing, a beautiful, yellow, -3 Mag Perseid started out in Cassiopeia and ended its flight in Cygnus, leaving a short persistent trail. The first half hour, activity was really good, with 7 Perseids and 9 Sporadics observed, with the Perseid radiant still quite low in the sky. After that, Perseid rates declined sharply, with half hour counts of respectively 2 and 4 the next hour. From 22:30 UT the dull activity was over, and Perseid activity kicked back into high gear. The next 1,5 hour yielded half hour counts of 9, 10 and 9. Also the Sporadics put up a good show, with a -4 Mag meteor at 23:56 as a highlight. This meteor was probably an Alpha Capricornid, and made a stunning appearance over the ocean in the western sky. This bluish, slow moving fireball made a perfect end to a 3 hour long memorable observing session. Rates and magnitude distribution were as follows:

 

21:00 UT – 21:30 UT, Teff: 0,500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.23, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 9 meteors: 1(1), 2(2), 3(3), 4(1), 5(1), 6(1)

PER: 7 meteors: -3(1), 1(1), 2(2), 3(1), 4(2)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

21:30 UT – 22:00 UT, Teff: 0,500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.23, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 4 meteors: 3(1), 4(1), 5(2)

PER: 3(1), 5(1)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

22:00 UT – 22:30 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 6 meteors: 4(2), 5(3), 6(1)

PER: 4 meteors: 2(1), 3(1), 4(2)

KCG: 2 meteors: 4(2)

 

22:30 UT – 23:00 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 7 meteors: 2(1), 3(2), 4(2), 5(1), 6(1)

PER: 9 meteors: 2(2), 3(2), 4(2), 5(2), 6(1)

KCG: 1 meteor: 5(1)

 

23:00 UT – 23:30 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 14 meteors: 1(1), 2(2), 3(3), 4(2), 5(4), 6(2)

PER: 10 meteors: 1(3), 2(1), 3(1), 4(1), 5(3), 6(1)

KCG: 1 meteor: 2(1)

 

23:30 UT – 00:00 UT, Teff: 0,500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 322, Dec: +55

SPO: 9 meteors: -4(1), 0(1), 2(1), 3(1), 4(1), 5(3), 6(1)

PER: 9 meteors: 0(2), 1(1), 2(1), 3(2), 4(1), 5(1), 6(1)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

Some practical wind problems…

After 3 hours of observations, I had to take a short break to eat a couple of energy bars, and take a pee. The latter was a very difficult task in the strong wind! I will not go into details, but when you at the same time has to hold on to your sunbed, camera equipment, and pillow, you just don’t have enough hands. With my left leg over the sunbed and pillow, my right knee on the ground, left hand on the camera equipment, and the right hand (you know where), I just had to pray that the strongest gusts of wind would stay away for a little moment. Some moments of relief later, I was ready for another two hours with the Perseid radiant high in the sky.

 

Observations 00:10 UT – 02:10 UT

The first hour I got half hour counts of 12 and 6 for the Perseids. This was a phenomenon that lasted the whole night. The Perseids came in batches, and also leaving long periods without any activity. The majority of the meteors were faint, only 1 being brighter than +2. This was a 0 magnitude, white, slow moving meteor near the radiant in Perseus at 00:49 UT. The last hour turned out to be more exciting. The wind was now even stronger, and a couple of times my camera equipment tipped over in the wind. Luckily is was aware of the danger, and was able to grab it before it hit the ground. One such moment came 01:26 UT when my camera tripod blew over, but I was able to grab it. Some seconds later a beautiful -1 mag Perseid appeared in my camera field. I was wondering whether I had started a new exposure before or after I stabilized the camera. If it was started before the wind gust, the exposure would be shaky and blurred. When thinking about this, a stunning -5 mag Perseid suddenly lit up the sky right in the middle of my camera field! If I had started the exposure after the wind gust, I would now have both these meteors on the same picture! I had to wait until the next day to check the memory card, and the lucky result you can see under. 10 minutes later it was time for another mini outburst of bright Perseids, with a -2 mag at 01:36, a -1 at 01:38, and a 0 mag at 01:39. Half hour counts for the Perseids this last hour was 13 and 8. Total numbers for the whole night was 80 Perseids, 85 Sporadics, and 4 Kappa Cygnids in 5 hours observing time.

A -5 mag Perseid and a -1 mag Perseid captured 01:36 UT. The red light in the low, right corner, is the light of a windmill on the mountain top. Picture taken with a Nikon D 3100 camera, with a Samyang 16mm F 2.0 lens. 20 seconds exposure time, with ISO 1600 settings.

 

00:10 UT – 00:40 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 330, Dec: +55

SPO: 12 meteors: 0(1), 1(1), 3(1), 4(6), 5(2), 6(1)

PER: 12 meteors: 2(2), 3(3), 4(5), 5(2)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

00:40 UT – 01:10 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 330, Dec: +55

SPO: 8 meteors: 1(1), 3(3), 4(3), 5(1)

PER: 6 meteors: 0(1), 2(3), 3(1), 4(1)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

01:10 UT – 01:40 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 330, Dec: +55

SPO: 6 meteors: 1(1), 2(2), 4(1), 5(2)

PER: 13 meteors: -5(1), -2(1), -1(2), 0(2), 1(1), 2(1), 3(2), 5(3)

KCG: 0 meteors

 

01:40 UT – 02:10 UT, Teff: 0.500, F: 1.00, Lm: 6.44, RA: 330, Dec: +55

SPO: 10 meteors: 2(1), 3(4), 4(1), 5(3), 6(1)

PER: 8 meteors: 0(1), 1(1), 2(2), 3(1), 4(2), 5(1)

KCG: 0 meteors