For the predicted peak night, local amateur astronomer and photographer Raymond Dubois was interested in joining me at a dark sky site. We discussed our options and the weather forecasts ahead of time, and we considered a few different possibilities. Some early evening cirrus and late night patchy clouds were possible, but the forecast was generally pretty good. It was warm but less humid and muggy than the previous night. By early afternoon on August 12, it seemed that the area surrounding Renfrew (west of Ottawa) would be decent! So we decided to head to our friend Shane Finnigan’s property (near Renfrew) and setup there for the night. Chris Thuemen joined in as well for some observing with his telescope.
I arrived after suppertime, and setup out on the property next to the pumpkin vines. I had a really great view of the sky facing east with the Madawaska Optical Observatory (MOO) in front of me. Not too buggy, and pleasant out there with a temperature of about 20C. While Shane gave Chris a tour of the observatory, Raymond and I setup our tracking mounts, cameras and other paraphernalia. Overhead, the sky was very clear — better than I expected! I even casually saw a few long and colourful Perseids shooting up into the twilight sky.
With my three cameras running exposures automatically, I signed on at 02:35 UT (10:35pm EDT) and observed until 08:30 UT (04:30am EDT) for a total of 3.88 hours effective time. The LM started off at 6.25 and gradually improved to 6.40 as the night went on. The session was interrupted by a few breaks either to check or adjust my cameras, or to wait out passing cloud cover. From about 2am to 3am local time, the sky was overcast due to a patch of cirrocumulus moving through quickly. Waiting it out paid off. The hour that followed was clear with a high radiant, and was quite productive in meteor activity. It then clouded over again just as the night was ending.
I saw a total of 195 meteors (150 Perseids, 9 kappa Cygnids, 7 Southern delta Aquariids, 3 Northern delta Aquariids, one alpha Capricornid and 25 sporadics). The Perseids had decent rates that reached 50/hr late at night. I was quite pleased with the Kappa Cygnids I was seeing — this minor shower has been quite active this year, but it has not been a “fireball year” for them. The Southern delta Aquariids continued to be mildly active.
There were a number of very nice meteors and highlights! The brightest Perseid came at 10:49pm EDT… It was a 40 degrees long -4 fireball that shot towards Capricornus just as another fainter +3 Perseid went by! One of my favourite moments was at 12:19am EDT with two bright Perseids almost back to back high up in the sky… a 30 degrees long -1 from Pegasus to Aquarius, followed just a couple seconds later by a stunning 40 degrees long -3 beauty with a 15 seconds persistent train! We all shouted loudly in our excitement! The late mag 0 blue-green alpha Capricornid that appeared at 3:19am EDT was a very pretty meteor tracing a long 30 degrees path between Andromeda and Aries. Last but not least, at 4:06am EDT, a foreshortened -3 bluish Perseid flared near the radiant and it left a 3 seconds train.
My three cameras caught a total of 279 meteors. Quite a productive night, even despite the cloudy spells! Here’s a collection of my four Perseids composite images taken on that night below on my Smugmug photo gallery. Several Kappa Cygnids were also captured.
Above: Composite image of 77 Perseids and 4 Kappa Cygnids captured between 01:57 UT (09:57 pm EDT) and 08:34 UT (04:34 am EDT) on August 12/13 2021 with the Madawaska Optical Observatory (MOO) in foreground. Note the highly foreshortened Perseids near the radiant. It was produced with a Canon 6D at ISO 3200, 35 sec exposures, and a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens. Tracking was provided by a Vixen GPDX mount. 725 continuous exposures were made of which 81 meteors were found and digitally combined into this image. Sporadics and other minor shower meteors are not included. Photographed near Renfrew, Ontario by Pierre Martin.
Above: Composite image of 25 Perseids captured between 01:55 UT (09:55 pm EDT) and 08:34 UT (04:34 am EDT) on August 12/13 2021. It was produced with a Canon 5D at ISO 1600, 25 sec exposures, and a Rokinon 24mm f/2.0 lens. Tracking was provided by a Vixen GPDX mount. 725 continuous exposures were made of which 25 meteors were found and digitally combined into this image. Sporadics and other minor shower meteors are not included. Photographed near Renfrew, Ontario by Pierre Martin.
Above: Composite image of 37 Perseids and 3 Kappa Cygnids captured between 02:03 UT (10:03 pm EDT) and 05:32 UT (01:32 am EDT) on August 12/13 2021. It was produced with a Nikon D750 at ISO 6400, 15 sec exposures, and a Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens. Setup was unguided. 613 continuous exposures were made of which 40 meteors were found and digitally combined into this image. Photographed near Renfrew, Ontario by Pierre Martin.
Above: Composite image of 60 Perseids and 3 Kappa Cygnids captured between 05:32 UT (01:32 am EDT) and 08:42 UT (04:42 am EDT) on the night of August 12/13 2021. It was produced with a Nikon D750 at ISO 6400, 15 sec exposures, and a Laowa 12mm f/2.8 lens. Setup was unguided. 669 continuous exposures were made of which 63 meteors were found, and digitally combined into this image. The gegenshein is faintly visible left of centre along the ecliptic. Photographed near Renfrew, Ontario by Pierre Martin.
These images can also be viewed here in higher resolution:
The company of Raymond, Chris and Shane was fun! In between meteors, I enjoyed listening to Raymond telling about his recent northern June annular solar eclipse road trip. At the end of the night, I had a nice, long snooze in the car. I enjoyed this night very much! Shane is fortunate in having access to these dark skies just steps away from his home.
August 12/13 2021, 02:35-08:30 UT (22:35-04:30 EDT)
Location: Renfrew, Ontario, Canada
IMO session: https://www.imo.net/members/imo_vmdb/view?session_id=82773
August xi Draconids (AXD) – 18:24 (276) +55
zeta Draconids (AUD) – 19:06 (287) +59
kappa Cygnids (KCG) – 19:08 (287) +52
alpha Capricornids (CAP) – 21:10 (317) -05
Anthelion (ANT) – 22:20 (335) -10
Northern delta Aquariids (NDA) – 23:14 (349) +02
Southern delta Aquariids (SDA) – 23:24 (351) -14
Perseids (PER) – 03:30 (053) +59
eta Eridanids (ERI) – 03:15 (049) -10
02:35-03:35 UT (22:35-23:35 EDT); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.25; facing SE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: thirty-three: -4; -1(2); 0; +1(6); +2(3); +3(5); +4(4); +5(11)
NDA: one: +1
Sporadics: six: +3(3); +4; +5(2)
Total meteors: Forty
04:00-05:22 UT (00:00-01:22 EDT); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.35; facing SE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: thirty-nine: -3; -1; 0(4); +1(11); +2(6); +3(5); +4(5); +5(6)
KCG: four: +1; +2; +4(2)
NDA: one: +3
SDA: one: +4
Sporadics: seven: +1; +2; +3; +4(2); +5(2)
Total meteors: Fifty-two
05:22-06:03 UT (01:22-02:03 EDT); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.35; facing SE55 deg; teff 0.50 hr
PER: thirteen: +1(5); +2; +3(4); +4(3)
KCG: two: 0; +4
SDA: two: +3; +5
Sporadics: two: +1; +4
Total meteors: Nineteen
07:07-08:07 UT (03:07-04:07 EDT); 3/5 trans; F 1.02; LM 6.40; facing SE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
PER: fifty: -3; -1; 0(3); +1(7); +2(7); +3(9); +4(14); +5(8)
SDA: four: +3(2); +4(2)
KCG: three: +1; +3; +5
CAP: one: 0
Sporadics: nine: +3(4); +4(4); +5
Total meteors: Sixty-seven
08:07-08:30 UT (04:07-04:30 EDT); 2/5 trans; F 1.04; LM 6.40; facing SE55 deg; teff 0.38 hr
PER: fifteen: 0; +1; +2(3); +3; +4(4); +5(5)
NDA: one: +3
Sporadics: one: +1
Total meteors: Seventeen
Total meteors for this session: 195