For the Perseids peak nights, I made plans with Raymond Dubois and Nicholas Zuger to get together at the Irvine Lake airstrip; a very dark sky site located south of Denbigh and about two hours drive west of Ottawa.  The weather was favourable for both nights (August 11/12 and 12-13) at this location so we opted to pack all the camping gear, food, observing and photography equipment that we’d need to spend the two nights.  The site is just a very wide open area without any facilities, so being well prepared is an absolute must!

August 11/12 2020 Summary:

On the first night, I arrived just past 11pm.  Raymond greeted me and he was all setup with his cameras and ready to go.  Another small group of people (Off Roading Club) were camping out at the north end of the airstrip and they were very respectful in minimizing and blocking lights for us.  The sky overhead was impressively clear but the humidity was building up quickly due to the rain from earlier in the day.  I debated between observing right away or setting up my tracking mount and cameras.  I decided to setup the equipment first and wait for the radiant to rise up higher before beginning to observe.  Unfortunately, fog was building up and intensified until the sky quality suffered significantly.  Eventually, the fog became so thick that formal counts would be impossible on this night, but I managed to get the following images:


Composite image of 19 Perseids, Canon 5D, Rokinon 24mm f/1.4, 40 sec x 19 exposures, ISO 1600. By Pierre Martin.

Composite image of 7 Perseids in the fog, Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, 25 sec x 7 exposures, ISO 3200. By Pierre Martin.


August 12/13 2020 Summary:

We were thankful for the morning sun to help dry up the damp equipment after the humid night.  It quickly got hot and humid (over 30C) and staying in the shade to stay cool was a must.  We spent the day adjusting equipment, enjoying conversations, napping and getting ready for another clear (and hopefully) dryer night.  Nicholas Zuger arrived late in the afternoon and so far the weather was looking really promising.  Indeed, we were treated to a splendid night that was not only much dryer but also crystal clear with above-average transparency all the way until the morning!  Prior to 12:32am moonrise, the sky reached LM=6.85 and the Milky Way was very impressive.  Irvine Lake airstrip has a small hill and tree line to the east that was advantageous in blocking the moon until we could finally see it after 2:00am (EDT).  The limiting magnitude dropped very gradually in the hour after moonrise, and the sky quality remained good even as the moon rose up high late at night.  I avoided the glare by keeping my field of view facing to the north.

What a great night with a lot of action!  As soon as my cameras were up and running, I started visual observing soon after 10:00pm (EDT) and I continued until 5:00am the next morning, for a total of 6 hours of observing (excluding breaks).  In that time, I counted 296 meteors (252 Perseids, 7 South delta Aquariids, 4 Anthelions, 4 North delta Aquariids, 2 kappa Cygnids, 1 eta Eridanid and 26 sporadics).  PER hourly rates were: 35, 30, 54, 45, 51 and 37 (the final count was a little less than an hour in brightening twilight).  These rates were better than I expected especially due to the fact that the traditional peak was expected to occur nearly a day earlier.  There was a mix of both bright and faint Perseids.  The brightest Perseid was a -5 fireball seen at 12:51am that had a terminal flash and a 12 seconds train.  I was impressed at Nicholas’s ability to see extremely faint meteors with ease — he has young eyes.  It was fun to talk about meteor magnitudes estimations and then listen to Nicholas practice this skill : )

The night had several more highlights… A sporadic earthgrazer was seen at 1:17am (EDT) moving very slowly, parallel to the horizon in the north, heading from west to east, and lasting several seconds!  At 2:35am, we unexpectedly saw a StarLink satellite train from a recent launch and deployment — dozens of satellites all in a tight “string” moving from west to east.  It was my first such sighting, and it was equally fascinating and concerning.  At 3:08am, the whole sky lit up in a flash.  None of us saw the meteor.  We looked around and found a persistent train left over from a Perseid fireball in the east near the Moon that lasted a good 20 seconds!  It was one of those nights you wished didn’t end : )


Composite image of 87 Perseids, Canon 6D, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, 30 sec x 87 exposures, ISO 3200. By Pierre Martin.


Composite image of 88 Perseids, Canon 5D, Rokinon 24mm f/1.4, 30 sec x 88 exposures, ISO 1600. By Pierre Martin.


Summer Milky Way and a Perseid, Nikon D750, Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8, 15 sec exposure, ISO 3200. By Pierre Martin.

August 12/13 2020 Visual Details:

Observer: Pierre Martin
IMO Profile:
Session Link:
Session Date: August 12/13 2020, 02:09-09:00 UT (22:09-05:00 EDT)
Location: Irvine Lake Airstrip, Denbigh, Ontario, Canada (Lng: -77 deg 15’ 46″ W; lat: 45 deg 1’ 47″ N)

Observed showers:
August Draconids (AUD) – 18:00 (270) +59
kappa Cygnids (KCG) – 18:52 (283) +48
alpha Capricornids (CAP) – 21:01 (315) -07
Anthelion (ANT) – 21:56 (329) -13
North delta Aquariids (NDA) – 22:51 (343) +00
South delta Aquariids (SDA) – 23:20 (350) -13
Piscis Austrinids (PAU) – 23:34 (353) -20
Perseids (PER) – 02:49 (042) +57
eta Eridanids (ERI) – 02:50 (042) -13

02:09-03:15 UT (22:09-23:15 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.85; facing NE50 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: thirty-five: -2; -1; 0; +1(7); +2(8); +3(8); +4(4); +5(5)
KCG: one: +2
ANT: one: +4
NDA: one: +4
SDA: one: 0
Sporadics: one: +4
Total meteors: Forty

03:15-04:35 UT (23:15-00:35 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.85; facing NE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: thirty: -1(2); 0(3); +1(8); +2(4); +3(4); +4(2); +5(7)
ANT: two: +3; +4
SDA: two: +3; +4
NDA: one: +3
Sporadics: two: +3; +4
Total meteors: Thirty-seven

04:35-05:42 UT (00:35-01:42 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.68; facing N55 deg; teff 1.01 hr
PER: fifty-four: -5; -3; -1; 0(2); +1(4); +2(7); +3(11); +4(11); +5(15); +6
SDA: four: 0(2); +2; +3
KCG: one: +4
ANT: one: +3
Sporadics: nine: +1; +3; +4; +5(6)
Total meteors: Sixty-nine

05:42-07:03 UT (01:42-03:03 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.42; facing N60 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: forty-five: -2(2); -1; +1(4); +2(12); +3(9); +4(11); +5(6)
NDA: one: +3
Sporadics: four: +4(2); +5(2)
Total meteors: Fifty

07:03-08:05 UT (03:03-04:05 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.28; facing N60 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: fifty-one: -3; -2; -1; 0; +1(4); +2(9); +3(11); +4(13); +5(10)
NDA: one: +3
Sporadics: six: +2; +3; +4; +5(3)
Total meteors: Fifty-eight

08:05-09:00 UT (04:05-05:00 EDT); clear; 4/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 5.76; facing N60 deg; teff 0.866 hr
PER: thirty-seven: 0(3); +1(4); +2(9); +3(9); +4(6); +5(6)
ERI: one: +1
Sporadics: four: +2(2); +4(2)
Total meteors: Forty-two

Breaks (UT): 02:35-02:41, 04:02-04:22, 05:02-05:04, 05:05 (30 sec), 05:15-05:19, 06:00-06:14, 06:15-06:22, 08:01-08:03, 08:33-08:36
Dead time: 58.5 minutes

Thank you to Raymond Dubois and Nicholas Zuger for the enjoyable company on this outing.

Clear skies,
Pierre Martin
Ottawa, Ontario