Abstract: December 2019 marks the end of a four-decade long period with visual meteor observations by the author. In those 40 years I was able to observe meteors during 1184 sessions. It resulted in 3413.23 hours of effective observing time and in total I observed 86542 meteors. A good time to look back on 40 years of meteor observations.
The first attempts to observe meteors were made in 1978 (Perseids) and 1979 (Lyrids, Perseids and Orionids). I made my first serious observations during the night of 4–5 August 1979. After a meeting of the Werkgroep Meteoren NVWS in March 1980, I founded the Delphinus Group with the aim to observe meteors together with friends and interested people. The location where we made our observations was a water tower. My father was working for the Waterleiding Maatschappij Gelderland (a water company) and so we got permission to do meteor observations at an almost 100-year-old water tower in the woods near Harderwijk. From this spot several memorable observing campaigns were organized with as highlights the Taurids 1981, Perseids 1983, Geminids 1983, Perseids 1989, Geminids 1991 and of course the unexpected Orionid outburst of 1993.
In 1983 we had a huge successful Perseid campaign at the water tower (Figure 2). Within two weeks we had nine clear nights, a rarity in the Netherlands. That year we used 15 reflex cameras, which we bought second hand. These were mainly Praktica LTL 3, Zenit B’s and Pentor TL cameras and were equipped with Tri-X film. To keep the camera lenses dew-free, we used heating resistors that were powered by 24 Volt transformers.
During this period a number of observing campaigns were also organized in southern France at the little village of Puimichel (Provence) where Dany Cardoen and Arlette Steenmans had an observatory for amateur astronomers (Figure 3). In 1983 I read in the popular scientific astronomy magazine Zenit a report by a well-known Belgian amateur Leo Aerts entitled: “Dream nights in the Provence”. There he had observed under very dark starry skies in combination with many clear nights and little light pollution. In 1984 I visited the Provence together with Bauke Rispens and Carl Johannink. All observing campaigns there were very successful. Many thousands of meteors were observed, for instance during the summer campaigns in 1984 (with increased Capricornid activity), 1985 (the magnitude –10 sporadic fireball of August 12), 1986 (August 12–13 under a fierce mistral wind and lm 7.0 skies, Figure 4) and the Orionids/Taurids campaign in 1986. During these journeys, Carl Johannink, Bauke Rispens, Robert Haas and Arjen Grinwis were also present.
In 1993 something changed, the Harderwijk team was rather small, including only Paul Bensing, Robert Haas and the author. But it was also becoming increasingly difficult to make observations from the water tower because of the increase of light pollution. In that year we observed the Perseids from Rognes, southern France. There, the expected Perseid outburst of 11–12 August (ZHR 300–400) was observed together with Robert Haas, Marco Langbroek and Casper ter Kuile (Figure 6). We were there as part of a large DMS expedition deploying four fully equipped photographic stations in the Provence (Figure 7). During the Perseid outburst we also observed many bright kappa Cygnids, amongst them a –8 KCG fireball (Figure 8).
Following the successful collaboration in Rognes, Marco and Casper joined the group in 1994. At the same time, a new observing location was searched for and found near Biddinghuizen. There, in the meadows of the farm of the Appel family, it was still possible to observe under almost Provencal conditions. Even the zodiacal light was once observed there. Successful observing campaigns at Biddinghuizen were the Quadrantids 1995, SDA/CAP 1995, Orionids 1995, Lyrids 1996, Geminids 1996 and Perseids 1997. After the 1997 Perseid campaign, more observing campaigns were organized, but the weather wasn’t cooperative.
In 1994 the Leonids had their first outburst in the new series associated with the return of Comet 55P Tempel-Tuttle in the inner parts of our solar system. In addition, more time was spent on the organization of the Leonid expeditions that were organized by DMS. Almost all of these expeditions were successful. The first expedition from Spain in 1995 was a great success with observations of two meteor outbursts: the Leonids and alpha Monocerotids (the last one together with Peter Jenniskens). In 1996 we were able to observe a peak of weak Leonids on a broader background with bright Leonids. This happened after a long 600 km camper ride where we ended up near a small hamlet in northwestern France called Woignarue.
In 1998 there was a hugely successful Leonid expedition to China under the name Sino Dutch Leonid Expedition 1998 (SDLE 1998) (Figure 12). That success was not so much due to the (disappointing) Leonid outburst on November 18, but more because of the unexpected occurrence of a fireball rain one night earlier (November 17). Under crystal clear skies we observed Leonid fireball after Leonid fireball. They always left persistent trains behind that were sometimes visible for tens of minutes. The brightest Leonid were a couple of magnitude –12! A –15 Leonid behind the mountains lit the sky up, bluish. At dusk a beautiful –12 Leonid was seen with many colors in the persistent train (Figure 14). Moreover, it was a beautiful location where we could observe, on the site of the radio observatory of the famous Purple Mountain Observatory near Delingha at the edge of the Gobi Desert in a valley at an altitude of 3000 meters! There we stayed between 13 and 20 November 1998 (Figure 13). Temperatures were very low, down to –23 degrees Celcius. The group consisted of Carl Johannink, Marco Langbroek, Jos Nijland, Arnold Tukkers, Robert Haas, Marc de Lignie and Romke Schievink.
In 1999 we were able to observe the Leonids from Spain. It was the first meteor storm I could observe, with a maximum ZHR of 4200 (Figure 15). This time most Leonids were weak. Highest minute count reached 50 Leonids and sometimes I saw 5 or 6 Leonids at once! Sometimes we really had the impression that we were traveling at high speed towards the constellation of Leo.
In 2000 I flew with Marco Langbroek and Carl Johannink last-minute to Portugal, last minute because the weather forecast over western Europe was so bad (Figure 16). There, again we saw a beautiful Leonid outburst that showed several peaks with a maximum ZHR of 400.
In 2001 there was the second Leonid expedition to China (Sino Dutch Leonid Expedition 2001, Figure 19). This time we stayed five days at the largest optical observatory in China near Xing Long (150 km northeast of Beijing). There we again witnessed a beautiful outburst of the Leonids. This time it was the perfect (and my second!) meteor storm, the bright Leonids from 1998 and the activity of the 1999 Leonid Storm combined. Maximum ZHR around 3700. Many fireballs appeared; the author observed 169 Leonids from–3 to –10 that night (Figures 17 and 18). The finest was a magnitude –8 Leonid earthgrazer which left a drifting persistent train that was visually visible for more than 20 minutes. I observed on the flat roof of the building of the 1-meter Schmidt telescope together with Casper ter Kuile and Arnold Tukkers and 20 (occasional) Chinese observers.
In 2002 I observed the Leonids together with Olga van Mil, Jaap van ’t Leven and Peter Bus from Moncarapacho, Portugal. Unfortunately, this was not a success, only between a few small clearings we could observe the increasing Leonid activity. In 2003 I was again in Moncarapacho with Jaap and Peter and this time we were able to observe the Leonids for four nights in a row.
Post Leonid period
After 2002 something changed again. The Delphinus team had its last campaign at the Cosmos observatory in Lattrop. After this, there were simply no more joint activities. The major Leonid campaigns were also history. Of course, my individual observational sessions always continued as usual. In 2003, the Southern delta Aquariids and Capricornids were observed from the south coast of Crete during a vacation. In 2004 there were some crash (=escaping bad weather) expeditions to Britzingen with Carl Johannink, Rita Verhoef and Romke Schievink (Perseid outburst ZHR 200) and Winterberg (observing the Geminids from the Kahler Asten).
In 2006 there was a small and final Leonid expedition to Andalusia, Spain together with Jaap van ‘t Leven, Peter Bus, Michel Vandeputte, Carl Johannink and Peter Jenniskens (Figure 20). Casper ter Kuile and Robert Haas manned a small second station near the town of Basa. On the night of November 18–19 we observed a brief outburst of the Leonids with an ZHR of around 90.
In 2006, an unexpected Orionid outburst was also observed by the author. Increased Orionid activity was also observed in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The year 2007 being the most beautiful when the Orionids performed at Perseid strength (ZHR 90) with many bright meteors.
In 2007 and 2009 the Geminids were observed from Portugal. Both campaigns were very successful. Thanks to Felix Bettonvil’s involvement, I was able to observe for a week at the end of July 2008 together with Carl Johannink, Peter van Leuteren, Klaas Jobse and Michel Vandeputte on the Roque de Los Muchachos observatory on the Canary Island of La Palma. High quality data of the Southern delta Aquariids and Capricornids were collected. We were there internally at the observatory for eight days, what was a great experience!
Following the successful 2008 SDA/CAP campaign from La Palma, we decided to observe the Southern delta Aquariids from Namibia in 2011 (Figure 21 and 22). And so, we were there for two weeks on the holiday observatory near the small town of Hakos. The darkest starry sky ever was seen there. With only a tiny light dome from Windhoek in the northeast. In the evening when the galaxy center was at the zenith, it wasn’t completely dark either. The landscape was somewhat “fairy-tale like” illuminated by the galaxy. When it went down later in the night it really became obvious how dark it could be there. SQM 22.2. In addition, the bright zodiacal light was always visible in the evening and in the morning. Record numbers of SDAs and CAPs were seen. Company included Casper ter Kuile, Carl Johannink, Klaas Jobse, Michel Vandeputte, Inneke Vanderkerken and Peter van Leuteren.
From 2009 onwards the Perseids were also regularly observed from the south of France. The highlights were the Perseids 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2018. The night of 11–12 August 2016 in particular was historic: the Perseids showed several peaks in activity with ZHRs between 120 and 300! Some Perseids of –8 were seen (Figures 24 and 25). In 2018, the Geminids were observed from Tenerife. There we could observe on the terrain of the German solar telescope of the Del Teide observatory. This was arranged for us by the astronomer Jürgen Rendtel, who is also a very active meteor observer (Figure 25).
Partly due to health problems, 2019 was not such a successful year. No foreign campaigns were set up either.
In Table 1 an overview of the number of sessions, effective duration of the observation, number of observed meteors and number of observed fireballs (meteors of –3 or brighter) per year.
Table 1 – Overview 1980–2019.
In terms of the number of sessions and effective observing time (Teff) per year, 1984, 1995, 2009, 2016 and 2018 stand out. In terms of numbers of observed meteors, 1986, 2001 and 2016 are at the top. Now 2001 shows a distorted picture because 4109 meteors were seen during the night of November 18–19 that year as a result of the Leonid outburst. The number of fireballs is also distorted because of the two Leonid outbursts in 1998 and 2001.
Table 2 – The 10 best years in terms of effective observation time.
|2||1984||158.43||FR, NL||PER, SDA, CAP|
|3||2018||145.97||NL, FR, SP||LYR, PER, LEO, GEM|
|4||2001||145.13||NL, CH, GR||LEO, SDA, GEM, LYR|
|5||2009||144.78||FR, NL, GE, PO||GEM, PER, QUA|
|6||1995||144.63||SP, NL||QUA, LEO, PER, ORI|
|7||1985||141.58||FR, NL||PER, SDA, ORI|
|8||1986||137.42||FR, NL||PER, TAU|
|9||2015||130.66||NL, GER, FR||PER, GEM|
Table 3 – The 10 best years in terms of numbers of observed meteors.
|1||2001||6900||Leonid meteor storm (XingLong, China)|
|2||1986||4985||Successful PER and TAU campaign, FR|
|3||2016||4272||PER Revest du Bion, FR|
|4||1985||3639||PER Puimichel FR|
|5||2009||3617||PER (FR), GEM (PO)|
|6||2007||3486||PER, GEM (PO),|
|7||1999||3185||Leonid meteor storm (SP)|
|8||1995||3162||QUA, PER, LEO|
|9||1997||3097||Perseids Biddinghuizen (NL)|
|10||1998||3095||Leonid fireball shower China|
Table 4 – The 10 best nights in terms of the numbers of meteors observed.
|1||18–19 Nov. 2001||4109||Leonids outburst|
|2||17–18 Nov. 1999||2203||Leonids outburst|
|3||13–14 Dec. 1996||1039||Geminids|
|4||13–14 Dec. 2004||1003||Geminids|
|5||13–14 Dec. 2009||992||Geminids|
|6||16–17 Nov. 1998||952||Leonids outburst|
|7||13–14 Dec. 2007||904||Geminids|
|8||12–13 Aug. 1986||830||Perseids|
|9||11–12 Aug. 1993||806||Perseids outburst|
|10||11–12 Aug. 2016||747||Perseids outburst|
Table 5 summarizes the statistics for the decades. A large part of my observational data is available via the IMO website. Unfortunately, this data is not (yet) complete. The data is complete in hard copy and digital by the author.
Table 5 – Overview per decade.
|Fireballs [–3;–12]||Number of sessions|
Several times the author was able to participate in often beautiful and memorable expeditions. Highlights were the SDLE 1998 and 2001 expeditions to China, but also the Perseids 1993 and 2016 and the SDA/CAP expeditions to the La Palma observatory and Namibia were unforgettable. These expeditions often lead to dark places where the air is much cleaner and there is much less light pollution than in the BeNeLux. It is also not surprising that of the 86542 observed meteors, 48145 were observed during these expeditions and vacations. Table 6 lists an overview of the expeditions.
Table 6 – Overview of all the meteor expeditions of the author.
|1984||22 July–5 August||Puimichel, Provence, France||Expedition||SDA, CAP, PER||1489|
|1985||6–22 August||Puimichel, Provence, France||Expedition||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||2875|
|1986||3–16 August||Puimichel, Provence, France||Expedition||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||3106|
|1986||26 Oct.–8 Nov.||Puimichel, Provence, France||Expedition||ORI, STA, NTA, LMI||1713|
|1993||8–15 August||Rognes, Provence, France||DMS expedition||PER outburst||1457|
|1995||12–22 November||Alcudia de Guadix, Spain||DMS expedition||LEO & AMO outbursts||881|
|1996||15–18 November||Woignarue, France||DMS Crash expedition||LEO outburst||197|
|1998||7–23 November||Deligha radio observatory, Quinhai, China||SDLE 1998 expedition||LEO outburst||2100|
|1999||14–20 November||Xalos Spain||DMS expedition||LEO outburst||2251|
|2000||16–19 November||Almodovar, Portugal||DMS Crash expedition||LEO outburst||761|
|2001||20 July–1 August||Chios island, Greece||Vacation||SDA, CAP, PER||823|
|2001||13–22 November||XingLong observatory, Hebei, China||SDLE 2001 expedition||LEO outburst||4824|
|2002||13–20 November||Moncarapacho, Portugal||Expedition||LEO outburst||45|
|2003||21 July–3 August||Ferma, Crete, Greece||Vacation||SDA, CAP, PER||1372|
|2003||14–22 November||Moncarapacho, Portugal||Expedition||LEO outburst||586|
|2004||10–12 August||Britzingen, Germany||DMS Crash expedition||PER outburst||442|
|2004||13–14 December||Kahler Asten, Germany||DMS Crash expedition||GEM||1003|
|2006||22 July-05 August||Entracasteux, Provence, France||Vacation||SDA, CAP, PER||1152|
|2006||14–21 November||Orchiva, Andalusia, Spain||DMS expedition||LEO outburst||773|
|2007||12–13 August||Grevesmühlen, Germany||DMS Crash expedition||PER maximum||367|
|2007||12–15 December||Evora, Portugal||DMS expedition||GEM maximum||1463|
|2008||25 July–1 August||Roque de los Muchachos Obs., La Palma, Spain||DMS expedition||SDA, CAP, PER||1532|
|2009||2–16 August||Vaison la Romaine, Provence, France||Vacation||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||1111|
|2009||20–21 October||Grevesmühlen, Germany||DMS Crash expedition||ORI outburst||104|
|2009||12–15 December||Castelo de Vide, Portugal||DMS expedition||GEM maximum||1148|
|2010||7–14 August||Redortiers, Provence, France||DMS expedition||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||954|
|2011||25 July–7 August||Hakos, Namibia||DMS expedition||SDA, CAP, PER||2010|
|2013||3–17 August||Revest du Bion, Provence, France||Vacation||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||2126|
|2015||25 April–2 May||Buzancy, Chapagne-Ardenne, France||Vacation||LYR||18|
|2015||8–22 August||Revest du Bion, Provence, France||Vacation||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||1877|
|2015||13–15 December||Oberied Hufgrund, Germany||DMS Crash expedition||GEM maximum||650|
|2016||2–14 August||Revest du Bion, Provence, France||Vacation||PER outburst||3035|
|2017||24 July–2 August||Agia Galini, Crete, Greece||Vacation||SDA, CAP, PER||1077|
|2018||1–14 June||Any Martin Rieux, Champagne-Ardenne, France||Vacation||SPO||70|
|2018||4–17 August||Abenas les Alps, Provence, France||DMS expedition||PER, CAP, SDA, KCG||1710|
|2018||12–14 December||Observatorio Del Teide, Tenerife, Spain||DMS expedition||GEM maximum||936|
|2019||30 April–5 May||Buzancy, Chapagne-Ardenne, France||Vacation||ETA, SPO||107|
Observed meteor outbursts
The most interesting phenomenon for a meteor observer is the appearance of an expected or unexpected meteor outburst. These can occur when the Earth travels through a fresh dust trail left by a comet. Usually such a situation provides extra activity in numbers of meteors. Of course, how much extra also depends on the density or age of the dust trail, or at what distance the Earth travels along the dust trail or, on the contrary, pulls through such a dust trail.
Good example of an unexpected meteor activity were the Orionids of 1993 and the delta Cancrids of the same year. The author has experienced a meteor storm twice (1999 and 2001) with the observed ZHR above 1000. Taken altogether, the author has seen about 50 meteor outbursts, with ZHRs ranging from 5 to 4200! In Table 7 a comprehensive overview is presented of all meteor outbursts that I have observed.
Table 7 – Summary meteor outbursts 1980–2019 observed by the author.
|Parent body||Remark (see below) and cause|
|1||1981 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||10||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|2||1984 Jul. 20–31||~||CAP||5||10-15||169P NEAT||2)||Unknown|
|3||1985 Aug. 10–15||~||KCG||2||5||2008 ED69||3)||Outburst with a period of 7/8 years|
|4||1988 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||10||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|5||1992 Aug. 11||20h00m||PER||60||170||109P Swift-Tuttle||4)||1862 & 1610 & Filament|
|6||1993 Jan. 17||00h36m||DCA||2||25||5)||Unknown|
|7||1993 Aug. 11–12||22h00m||PER||70||170||109P Swift-Tuttle||6)||1862|
|7||1993 Aug. 11–12||~||PER||70||300||109P Swift-Tuttle||6)||Filament|
|8||1993 Aug. 10–15||~||KCG||2||5||2008 ED69||3)||Outburst with a period of 7/8 years|
|9||1993 Oct. 16–19||~||ORI||8||25||1P Halley||7)||13:2 mean motion resonance Jupiter?|
|10||1995 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||10||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|11||1995 Nov. 18||~||LEO||12||35||55P Tempel-Tuttle||8)||Filament|
|12||1995 Nov. 22||~||AMO||5||600||Long period comet?||9)||Short outburst 50 minutes|
|13||1996 Sep. 9||00h00m||SPE||5||20||Long period comet?||10)||Unknown|
|14||1996 Nov. 18||~||LEO||12||140||55P Tempel-Tuttle||11)||Filament + dust trail?|
|15||1997 Aug. 12||23h45m||PER||80||120||109P Swift-Tuttle||12)||Unexpected!|
|16||1997 Nov. 17||12h00m||LEO||12||30||55P Tempel-Tuttle||13)||Filament, maximum above US: ZHR 140|
|17||1997 Nov. 18||12h00m||LEO||12||30||55P Tempel-Tuttle||13)||Filament, maximum above US: ZHR 140|
|18||1998 Oct. 08||18h30m||GIA||0-2||10||21P Giacobini-Zinner||14)||Background activity|
|19||1998 Oct. 19||02h00m||ORI||8||10-15||1P Halley||15)||Unknown|
|20||1998 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||?||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|21||1998 Nov. 17||23h00m||LEO||12||250||55P Tempel-Tuttle||16)||Filament|
|22||1998 Nov. 18||~||LEO||12||200||55P Tempel-Tuttle||16)||1899 trail?|
|23||1999 Aug. 10–15||~||KCG||2||5||2008 ED69||3)||Outburst with a period of 7/8 years|
|24||1999 Nov. 18||02h00m||LEO||12||4200||55P Tempel-Tuttle||17)||Trails 1899 & 1932|
|25||2000 Nov. 1717||05h00m||LEO||12||30||55P Tempel-Tuttle||18)||Trail 1932 (7h00 UT)|
|26||2000 Nov. 18||03h00m||LEO||15||350||55P Tempel-Tuttle||18)||Trails 1733 and 1866|
|27||2001 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||10||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|2001 Nov. 18||LEO||12||30||55P Tempel-Tuttle||19)||Unknown|
|28||2001 Nov. 19||17h00m||LEO||15||3400||55P Tempel-Tuttle||19)||Comb. of dust trails from 1866,1699,1666 & 1633|
|29||2002 Nov. 19||~||LEO||15||1500||55P Tempel-Tuttle||20)||1767 trail|
|30||2003 Jul. 29||00h00m||SDA||20-25||40||96P Machholz||21)||Unknown, not confirmed|
|31||2003 Nov. 18||05h00m||LEO||10||25||55P Tempel-Tuttle||22)||Unknown|
|32||2003 Nov. 19||03h36m||LEO||10||50||55P Tempel-Tuttle||22)||Unknown|
|33||2003 Nov. 20||03h00m||LEO||8||20||55P Tempel-Tuttle||22)||Unknown|
|34||2003 Nov. 20||05h00m||LEO||8||35||55P Tempel-Tuttle||22)||Unknown|
|35||2004 Aug. 11||20h00m||PER||80||170||109P Swift-Tuttle||23)||Peak faint meteors, trail 1862|
|36||2004 Aug. 12||00h00m||PER||80||120||109P Swift-Tuttle||23)||Filament|
|37||2005 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||15||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|38||2006 Oct. 22||00h00m||ORI||20||50||1P Halley||24)||Dust trails from –1265 & –1197 & –910|
|39||2006 Nov. 19||04h39m||LEO||15||90||55P Tempel-Tuttle||25)||Dust trail 1932|
|40||2006 Nov. 20||~||LEO||15||25||55P Tempel-Tuttle||25)||Filament|
|41||2007 Oct. 20||00h00m||ORI||15||50||1P Halley||26)||Dust trail –1265|
|42||2007 Oct. 22||01h30m||ORI||20||90||1P Halley||26)||Dust trail –1197|
|43||2007 Oct. 23||02h00m||ORI||20||50||1P Halley||26)|
|44||2007 Aug. 10–15||~||KCG||1||5||2008 ED69||3)||Outburst with a period of 7/8 years|
|45||2007 Nov. 18||04h00m||LEO||15||25||55P Tempel-Tuttle||27)||Unknown trail|
|46||2008 Aug. 13||00h00m||PER||80||135||109P Swift-Tuttle||28)||Possible disturbed old 441 trail|
|47||2008 Oct. 20||03h00m||ORI||20||40||1P Halley||29)|
|48||2008 Oct. 22||02h00m||ORI||20||35||1P Halley||29)|
|49||2008 Nov. 19||~||LEO||15||80||55P Tempel-Tuttle||30)||Dust trail 1466|
|50||2009 Jan. 3||04h00m||QUA||30||100||2003 EH1||31)||Above normal activity|
|51||2009 Aug. 12||21h00m||PER||80||135||109P Swift-Tuttle||32)||Dust trail 1348?|
|52||2009 Oct. 21||00h00m||ORI||20||35||1P Halley||33)|
|53||2009 Dec. 13–14||~||HYD?||5||5||34)||3 very bright HYD fireballs within hours|
|54||2010 Oct. 21||03h00m||ORI||20||30||1P Halley||35)|
|55||2010 Oct. 25||03h00m||ORI||15||25||1P Halley||35)|
|56||2011 Oct. 8||19h00m||GIA||0-2||250||21P Giacobini-Zinner||36)|
|57||2013 May 6||~||ETA||60||120||1P Halley||37)||Dust trails –1197 & –910|
|58||2013 Aug. 10–15||~||KCG||0-2||5||2008 ED69||3)||Outburst with a period of 7/8 years|
|59||2015 Aug. 11||21h18m||PER||90||120||109P Swift-Tuttle||38)||Trail 1862?|
|60||2015 Nov. 1–20||~||STA||5||15||2P Encke/Taurid complex||1)||Taurids trapped in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter|
|61||2016 Aug. 11||22h38m||PER||90||170||109P Swift-Tuttle||39)||Trail 1862 combined with trail 1479|
|62||2016 Aug. 11||23h17m||PER||90||330||109P Swift-Tuttle||39)||Trail 1479, very sharp peak!|
|63||2016 Aug. 12||01–04h||PER||90||120-180||109P Swift-Tuttle||39)||Filament/old trails|
|64||2018 Aug. 11||20h00m||PER||90||110||109P Swift-Tuttle||40)||Filament|
|65||2018 Aug. 13–14||PER||40||90||109P Swift-Tuttle||41)||New feature?|
|66||2018 Oct. 8||22h55m||GIA||0–2||140||21P Giacobini-Zinner||42)||Trail 1953, disturbed|
Remarks associated with the events listed in Table 7:
1) Taurids resonant swarm 1981, 1988, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2015 (ZHR 10–15). Occasionally, the southern Taurids (STA) exhibit increased activity. This is caused by a swarm of heavier meteoroids caught in a 7:2 resonance with the planet Jupiter. 1981 and 2005 were the most impressive due to the appearance of one or more very bright fireballs in the class –8 to –10 (Delphinus, 1981; Johannink and Miskotte, 2006a; Nijland, 1995; Miskotte, 1988; Miskotte and Johannink, 2005c; 2006a; 2006b).
2) Capricornids 1984 (ZHR 10–12). In 1984 I observed the Capricornids with Bauke Rispens and Carl Johannink from Puimichel, Provence, southern France (Miskotte et al., 1984; Miskotte and Johannink, 2005b; 2008a). The brightness and ZHR observed there clearly show an increased activity with ZHRs around 10–12, where normally the ZHR is around 5. There were also quite a few fireballs seen, including one –8 CAP.
3) Kappa Cygnids in 1985, 1993, 1999, 2007 and 2013 (ZHR 5). Just like the southern Taurids (STA), the kappa Cygnids (KCG) occasionally show more activity with a slightly higher ZHR, but especially more bright fireballs (Johannink, 2007b; Langbroek, 1993; Miskotte, 1985). The fireballs were particularly noticeable in 1993 and 2007. In 1985 and 2013, the numbers were somewhat higher, but no fireballs were seen.
4) Perseids (1992) from the Netherlands (ZHR 170). A spectacular outburst of the Perseids (ZHR 600) was reported from China, Eastern Europe and Switzerland. With a maximum around 19h50m UT not visible from the Netherlands, but when I started at 20h15m UT I immediately saw a number of bright Perseids in the twilight sky. A ZHR calculation resulted in a ZHR of 170. So, I may have seen the last minutes of this outburst (Miskotte, 1992).
5) Delta Cancrids (1993) from the Netherlands (ZHR 25). Over a period of 68 minutes, 8 delta Cancrids were seen, including a number of bright ones (Miskotte, 1993a). ZHR 12 for the entire period (Jenniskens, 2006a; Van Vliet, 1993), ZHR 25 in shorter intervals (Miskotte, private analyses).
6) Impressive Perseid outburst of 11–12 August 1993 (ZHR 300). As a participant of a large DMS expedition to the south of France, I witnessed the beautiful Perseid outburst of 11–12 August 1993 (Langbroek, 1993). A peak with a ZHR of 170 was seen around 22h30m UT caused by the 1 revolution dust trail of P 109 Swift-Tuttle and later that night a peak ZHR of 300 was caused by the “filament” (Jenniskens, 2006b). Many bright Perseids were seen that night.
7) Unexpected Orionid outburst on October 18, 1993 (ZHR 30). I was able to observe the nights 16–17, 17–18 and 18–19 October 1993, three nights in a row. The first night, despite disturbing clouds, gave rather high Orionid activity. The night of October 17–18 the activity was comparable to a good Orionid maximum with many clear meteors up to magnitude –5 (Jenniskens, 2006c; Miskotte, 1993b; Rendtel and Betlem, 1993)! Later on, this outburst was confirmed by Jürgen Rendtel and André Knöfel and a radio observer, Esko Lyytinen.
8) Leonid outburst November 18, 1995 (ZHR 35). In 1994 the first Leonid outburst in a new series was observed. In 1995, DMS organized an expedition to Andalusia in southern Spain. There, along with many other DMS members, I saw the second Leonid outburst with a ZHR of 35 caused by the Leonid filament (Jenniskens, 2006d; Langbroek, 1996a; Nijland, 1995).
9) Alpha Monocerotids outburst November 22, 1995 (ZHR 600). As a participant in the first DMS Leonid expedition, I also saw the 50-minute alpha Monocerotid outburst (Jenniskens, 2006e; Langbroek and Jenniskens, 1996; Nijland, 1995).
10) September Perseids (ZHR 30 and decreasing). On the verge of a detection and not noticed by other observers active at the same time (Miskotte, 1996).
11) Leonids outburst November 17, 1996 (ZHR 140). A crash expedition brought the team Delphinus to the northern French hamlet of Woignarue where we saw a beautiful Leonid return. On a background of bright Leonids (ZHR 80) we saw a peak of weak Leonids (ZHR 60). A nice campaign made with a rented camper (Langbroek, 1996b; Langbroek, 1999; Miskotte and ter Kuile, 1997).
12) Unexpected Perseid activity on August 12, 00h UT (ZHR 135). During a regular Perseid maximum, a ZHR of 120 was briefly observed (Arlt, 1997; Langbroek, 1997; ter Kuile and Miskotte, 1997).
13) Leonids 17 and 18 November 1997 (ZHR 30–50). In that year I was able to observe the Leonids with other DMS members from the Cosmos Observatory near Lattrop (Miskotte et al., 1998). There we saw an increasing (November 17, 1997) and a decreasing activity (November 18) of the Leonid filament with relatively many bright Leonids in a moonlit sky (Jenniskens, 2006f).
14) Draconid activity on October 8, 1998 (ZHR 10). A major outburst of the Draconids (ZHR 800) was seen above East Asia on 8 October. When it became dark above western Europe, only some background activity remained visible (Langbroek, 1998).
15) Orionids on October 19, 1998 (ZHR 25). Possibly slightly increased Orionid activity that morning, similar to October 18–19, 1993 (one night after the outburst of 1993 when the activity was also enhanced).
16) Leonids 17 and 18 November 1998 (ZHR resp. 250–200). As a participant in the Sino Dutch Leonid Expedition 1998 (SDLE) I observed the beautiful fireball rain on November 17 caused by the Leonid filament. On November 18 I observed a peak activity of Leonids caused by the dust trail from 1899. An unforgettable experience (Betlem, 1998; Betlem and Van Mil, 1999; Jenniskens, 2006f; 2006g; Miskotte, 1999a; Nijland, 1999; Tukkers, 1999).
17) My first Leonid meteor storm (ZHR 4200). Together with a large team of DMS members I saw my first Leonid storm from Andalusia in Spain. Minute counts up to 50 Leonids and sometimes 5 or 6 Leonids in a second! Only a few bright Leonids and many weak Leonids (Jenniskens, 2006g; Miskotte, 1999b). A nice encounter with a dust trail of 55P/Tempel-Tuttle from 1866.
18) Leonids 17 and 18 November 2000 (ZHR resp. 30 and 350). Together with Marco Langbroek and Carl Johannink I flew last-minute to southern Portugal where we could observe the Leonids on 17 and 18 November. On November 17 we had some increased activity leading up to the passage of the dust trail of 55P from 1932. On the morning of November, the 18th we observed several peaks in activity, associated with dust trails of 55P from 1733 and 1866 (Jenniskens, 2006g; Johannink, 2000).
19) November 19, 2001: my second Leonid storm (ZHR 3600). As a participant in the Sino Dutch Leonid Expedition, I witnessed the Leonid storm of November 19, 2001 from the optical observatory of XingLong, China. The ideal meteor show: the bright Leonids of 1998 and the activity of the 1999 Leonid meteor storm combined (Miskotte, 2001; ter Kuile, 2001). The night before there was also increased Leonid activity (ZHR 30). The activity of the 18th was a combination of various dust traces left by 55P in 1866, 1699, 1666 and 1633.
20) A Leonid outburst (ZHR 2200). In November 2002 I was in southern Portugal with Peter Bus, Jaap van ‘t Leven and Olga van Mil. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. We did not see much of the last Leonid storm of this series, the only thing we saw was the rising activity in tiny clearings in a moonlit sky (Bus, 2002; Jenniskens 2006g, Miskotte et al., 2002).
21) The Southern delta Aquariids July, 29, 2003 (ZHR 40). A 2-week holiday in Crete offered me the opportunity to do some observations night after night on the Southern delta Aquariids and Capricornids. On July 29, 2003, the SDAs showed high activity which I noticed during the observations (Miskotte, 2004).
22) Leonids 2003, multiple peaks (ZHR 30–50). A week in southern Portugal with Jaap van ’t Leven and Peter Bus yielded four clear nights. During the nights 17–18, 18–19 and 19–20, several brief peaks of the Leonid meteor shower were observed. The ZHRs ranged from 30–50 (Bus, 2004).
23) Perseid outburst August 11, 2004 (ZHR 200). After a tour through Germany together with Carl Johannink, Rita Verhoef and Romke Schievink we finally found a clear sky over Britzingen, Germany. There we observed a short outburst of faint Perseids as a result of the Earth moving through the 1 revolution dust trail of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle from 1862. Later that night many bright Perseids appeared as a result of the filament (Jenniskens, 2006h; Miskotte and Johannink, 2004; 2005a).
24) Orionid outburst on October 21, 2006 (ZHR 60). Because the Earth moved through old dust trails from Comet 1P/Halley (–1265, –1197 and –910) I was able to observe clearly increased Orionid activity during a few major clear spells that night (Jenniskens et al., 2006a; Johannink and Miskotte, 2006b; Miskotte, 2006).
25) Leonid outburst November 19, 2006 (ZHR 90). A week in southern Spain, together with Jaap van ‘t Leven, Peter Bus, Michel Vandeputte, Carl Johannink, Robert Haas, Peter Jenniskens and Casper ter Kuile, resulted in a number of clear nights. A dust trail of 55P/Tempel-Tuttle from 1932 produced a short outburst with a maximum ZHR of 90. The next night, remarkably bright Leonids were seen as a result of the filament (Jenniskens et al., 2006b; Jenniskens et al., 2008; Johannink, 2007a; Vandeputte, 2007).
26) Orionid outburst October 2007 (ZHR 90). Again, due to old dust traces of comet 1P Halley from –1265 and –1197 beautiful Orionid activity. The highlight was the night 21–22 October from Lattrop with a large group of observers. Incredibly beautiful activity, comparable to a Perseid maximum (Johannink and Miskotte, 2008; Miskotte, 2008a;).
27) Leonid 2007 small outburst on November 18, 2007 (ZHR 25). A crystal-clear night from the Ermelo Heide (a heath) together with Jaap van ‘t Leven. Beautiful Leonid activity, also with bright Leonids up to magnitude –4 (Miskotte, 2008b; Miskotte and Johannink, 2008b).
28) Perseid outburst 12–13 August 2008 (ZHR 135). As a result of a possibly old and disturbed dust trail from comet 109P Swift-Tuttle from 441 a beautiful outburst of bright Perseids was observed, including a –10 Perseid. Observed from the Cosmos Observatory in Lattrop (Johannink, 2008; Johannink et al., 2008).
29) Orionid outburst in 2008 (ZHR 40). For the third year in a row an Orionid outburst, noticeable despite moonlight (Miskotte, 2008c; Miskotte and Johannink, 2009).
30) Leonid outburst on November 19, 2008 (ZHR 80). Despite a lot of moonlight, low radiant position and clouds I observed beautiful Leonid activity.
31) Quadrantids were very active (ZHR 100). Unexpectedly high Quadrantid activity in 2009, ZHR 90 instead of the normal ZHR 30–40. Nice and cold observing from the Ermelo Heide (Johannink and Miskotte, 2009; Vandeputte, 2009).
32) Perseid outburst August 12, 2009 (ZHR 135). Due to disturbances of the Perseid meteoroids by Saturn, the Earth moved through several dust trails of comet 109P. Possibly I saw the last part of an outburst caused by a dust trail from 1348. Beautiful bright Perseids made long tracks across the Provencal sky (Miskotte, 2009; Miskotte et al., 2009).
33) Orionids 2009 (ZHR 40). An Orionid outburst for the fourth year in a row.
34) Hydrid fireballs 13–14 December 2009. The observation of three very bright Hydrid fireballs from magnitude –4, –5 and –8 during the Geminid maximum of 2009 (Johannink et al., 2010; Van Leuteren and Miskotte, 2010).
35) Orionids outburst 2010 (ZHR 30). A crash expedition with Carl Johannink to Grevesmuhlen in northern Germany yielded a few hours of Orionid data with a ZHR of 30. Fifth year on a row with enhanced Orionid activity.
36) Draconid outburst October 8, 2011 (ZHR 300). Unfortunately, due to bad weather only a dozen Draconids were seen during short clear spells (Miskotte, 2012).
37) eta Aquariids outburst May 6, 2013 (ZHR 100). Despite very low radiant elevations, not less than 13 ETAs were seen during twilight from Ermelo, the Netherlands (Johannink et al., 2013; Miskotte, 2013).
38) Small Perseid outburst on August 12, 2015 (ZHR 120). Despite a low radiant position, I saw a somewhat higher PER activity from the Provence. Data from Eastern Europe confirms this observation. Possibly a belated activity of the REV 1 trail from 1862 (Miskotte, 2016a; 2016b; Vandeputte and Miskotte, 2016).
39) The beautiful Perseid outburst of 11–12 August 2016 (ZHR 100–300). Fantastic Perseids outburst in this night, the most beautiful of all Perseid outburst that I have seen. No less than three peaks, the first of which was the most intense (ZHR 300). Never seen such a rapid decline in activity after this peak (Miskotte and Vandeputte, 2017a; 2017b; Vandeputte, 2016).
40) Enhanced Perseid activity on August 12, 2018 (ZHR 110). Strikingly many bright Perseids seen including a beautiful –4 earthgrazer that moved from the constellations of Cepheus to the Sagittarius in the evening of August 11, 2018. Probably caused by the appearance of the Perseid filament (Miskotte, 2019a; 2019b; Vandeputte, 2018; 2019).
41) A second peak in Perseid activity on August 14, 2018 (ZHR 80). Surprise during the night August 13–14, 2018. A peak of Perseid activity observed together with Michel Vandeputte, Carl Johannink and Jos Nijland (Miskotte, 2019a; 2019b; Vandeputte, 2018; 2019).
42) Draconid outburst of October 8, 2018 (ZHR 140). Despite moderate weather conditions, this outburst has been properly observed (Miskotte 2018a; 2018b; 2019a; 2019b).
The coming decade
If health permits, I hope to add another decade of meteor observing. In addition to the visual meteor work, there is also the CAMS, visual reductions and all sky work that the author is working on. However, the visual work is still the most important thing for the author. Nothing can beat a nice active meteor night from a beautiful scenic and dark location!
It was thanks to the efforts of many others that I was able to achieve these results, so to speak, the organizers of the many expeditions that I have been able to attend. Of course, I am grateful for the great company during all those trips and expeditions in the fields. I already mentioned these above. A big thank you to Paul Roggemans for helping me with this article. And last but definitely not least, I would like to thank my life partner, Lizzie, for the fact that I was always able to go on expeditions or to spend a few hours outside during our holidays. Despite the question why I prefer to lie outside in the cold rather than in a cozy warm bed with her, she has always encouraged me to continue this hobby :-).
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Very interesting and informative article. Thank you.