The predicted peak night of the SPEs was clouded out, but I was able to get out a few nights later.  I attended a very busy public sidewalk session in the west end, and after that, I took a drive to Westmeath Lookout.  It has been a few years since I’ve last been to this site, and I enjoy its elevated 360 degrees views.  It really is a nice spot to do meteor observing and worth the 1.5 hour drive.

This is the kind of night that I probably should have stayed home.  A small cloud had parked itself over Ottawa but I was confident that the skies were clearer further to the west.  As I drove, I could see some stars overhead so I figured that it would be good.  But it seemed that the further I went, the cloudier it got, and as I passed Renfrew and turned on Storyland road, a few drops of rain started.  Then, it got worse.  It rained.  And then it poured. A few minutes later, it calmed a bit.  As I drove on Queens Line road (2/3 of the way to the site), the rain suddenly came down so hard that I could barely see anything.  It was like a torrential downpour!  This went on and off past Beachburg and I contemplated aborting the observing attempt as it looked so dismal.  But I pressed on as I was so close anyway.  About 5 minutes to arrival at the Look-out, the rain stopped and I could see a few stars.  I pulled into the parking lot, and out of the car, I looked up… WOW!  It was a glorious canopy of stars all over the north-east.  So many stars, it was absolutely stunning!  In the south-east, I could see the cloud that was responsible for all that rain.  Thankfully, that was behind me now.  So I grabbed my chair, meteor accessories and walked up to the top of the hill.  Up there, it is a breathtaking view.  I sat back in my chair and I enjoyed the light but steady easterly breeze.  A few clouds hung around so I just observed casually for a while and then took a short snooze because I was so tired.  The short nap energized me and I started a two hours of meteor observing.  At the end of the first hour, something strange happened.  The wind picked up and along with it came one of the THICKEST fogs that I’ve ever seen.  The wind seemed to push it right in and within minutes, all the stars were disappearing around the horizons.  Down below in the valley, I saw almost nothing — it was all white!  All I could do was look straight up to the zenith where I could still see the sky, but it looked like it wouldn’t last.  It was also getting so incredibly humid and very much dismal.  Just as I was about to call it a night, the wind calmed down and the fog … went away!  Just like that!  Such a strange night!  As a result, I was able to complete my second hour.

In all, I saw 22 meteors (5 antihelions, 2 Sept Epsilon Perseids, 2 nu Eridanids and 13 sporadics).  With those variable conditions, I can’t complain too much.  Just after I signed off, I saw what appeared to be a fireball behind a cover of approaching clouds.  It was just a halo of sorts shooting across!

At 4:30am, I setup my Adventurer EQ mount and camera to capture 21P/Giacobini-Zinner’s conjonction with M35, along with the compact and more distant NGC 2158 visible to the right.  I found that the comet is already quite a bit fainter than it was a week ago, but this was very cool! A green fuzz ball overlapping a rich star cluster, just as morning twilight was starting.  Certainly a unique sight that we don’t see every day!  Here’s an image done with my Canon 6D and 400mm f/5.6 lens and 1.4 TC (at f/8.0), ISO6400, stack of five 30 sec exposures:

September 14/15 2018, 06:00-08:15 UT (02:00-04:15 EDT)
Location: Westmeath Lookout (White Water Region), Ontario, Canada
(Long: -76.859 West; Lat: 45.793 North)

Observed showers:
chi Cygnids (CCY) – 20:12 (303) +32
Antihelion (ANT) – 00:28 (007) +03
September Epsilon Perseids (SPE) – 03:40 (055) +40
nu Eridanids (NUE) – 04:38 (070) +05
eta Eridanids (ERI) – 05:00 (075) -02

06:00-07:06 UT (02:00-03:06 EDT); 3/5 trans; F 1.05; LM 6.50; facing SE50 deg; teff 1.00 hr
20% clouds from 06:45-06:50 and 20% from 06:56-07:06
ANT: three: 0; +4(2)
NUE: one: +4
Sporadics: five: +3(2); +5(3)
Total meteors: Nine

07:15-08:15 UT (03:15-04:15 EDT); 1/5 trans; F 1.10; LM 6.30; facing SE70 deg; teff 1.00 hr
10% clouds from 07:15-07:30, 20% from 07:30-07:40 and 20% from 08:05-08:15
SPE: two: +3; +5
ANT: two: +4(2)
NUE: one: +4
Sporadics: eight: +2(2); +3; +4; +5(3); +6
Total meteors: Thirteen

Clear skies,

Pierre Martin
Ottawa, Ontario