For the Geminids 2021 peak night, Raymond Dubois joined me for an excellent night of observing at the North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve (NFDSP), located about 160 km west of Ottawa near the town of Plevna. The weather looked especially promising, although the waxing gibbous phase (10 days old) was up until 3:00am (local time) that night. From past experience, the Geminids have often put on a good show even during moonlit or moderately light polluted skies. I was also hopeful that the timing for the predicted peak would favour seeing high rates on this night.
In terms of temperature, this was one of the most comfortable night that I’ve ever had for the Geminids! It was unusually mild for this time of the year, here, with a low of only -4C (25F). This made setting up equipment a breeze. Usually for the Ottawa region we would expect to have temperatures of -20C (-4F) or colder on clear nights in mid December. The sky was nice and transparent, and the fence near us kept the Moon’s glow out of sight after 1:30am. A large number of cars arrived during the night, with a group of about 20 people coming to view and photograph meteors. They remained in the parking area, and again the fence shielded our eyes and cameras reasonably well.
I took my time setting up my cameras. My plan was to start observing later at night when the Moon would be lower. Yet, the moonlight did not seem to hinder the Geminids too much. Several meteors would catch my eyes, many bright ones too! I signed on at mmidnight (local time) and I’m glad I did because the Geminids were already producing visual rates of better than one per minute! My first hour had 65 Geminids, followed by another 60 in the second hour of my watch. A good number of negative magnitude GEMs were seen, including a -4 blue-green beauty that shot 30 degrees into Ursa Major, seen just after 1am (local time). The rates further increased to 80 GEMs seen in the third hour, with the Moon about to set. Then, the fourth hour was glorious, with dark mag 6.5 skies, and a visible winter Milky Way. Activity was high and superb… with 130 meteors seen (of which 110 were GEMs)! My fifth “hour” was cut short and lasted only a little over half an hour, due to clouds and haze that gradually covered the sky, but still yielded 50 GEMs. All in all, in over four and a half hours of observing, I saw 411 meteors (365 Geminids, 8 sigma Hydrids, 5 Comae Berenicids, 4 Monocerotids, 4 December Alpha Draconids, 3 December Sigma Virginids, 2 eta Hydrids, 2 December Leonis Minorids, 2 Ursids, one November Orionid and 15 sporadics). Ouf! It can be a bit of a challenge keeping track of so many active radiants active in mid-December, though I’m not complaining! A total of 7 fireballs were seen. The finest was a mag -5 GEM near the end of the night, that shot down into Orion and created haloes with the haze rising in that direction. Another GEM fireball, this time a -3 seen just a few minutes earlier, fragmented and had a vivid blue-green color.
My photography consisted of two cameras setup to track the sky for a period of about 5 hours, until the end of the night. Here’s one of two composite images. This one is of 98 Geminid meteors, captured on December 13/14 2021, between midnight and 5am (local time). Canon 5D and Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 (set at f/2.0), ISO800 (prior to 2:30am local time), ISO1600 (after 2:30am local time). Hundreds of 30 seconds exposures were taken, and the images with meteors were then combined together digitally:
The second composite is of 200 Geminid meteors, captured on December 13/14 2021, between midnight and 5am (local time). Canon 6D and Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, ISO800 (prior to 2:30am local time), ISO3200 (after 2:30am local time). Hundreds of 30 seconds exposures were taken, and the images with meteors were then combined together digitally:
It was a fabulous night, and it was great to have Raymond’s company.
Observation December 13/14 2021, 05:00-10:05 UT (00:00-05:05 EST)
Location: North Frontenac Dark Sky Preserve Site, Ontario, Canada
(Long: -76 deg 56’ 23” West; Lat: 44 deg 55′ 04″ North)
IMO session: https://www.imo.net/members/imo_vmdb/view?session_id=83502
Southern chi Orionids (ORS) – 05:48 (87) +18
November Orionids (NOO) – 06:40 (100) +14
Monocerotids (MON) – 06:47 (102) +08
Geminids (GEM) – 07:34 (114) +32
sigma Hydrids (HYD) – 08:34 (128) +02
eta Hydrids (EHY) – 09:02 (135) +02
theta Pyxidids (TPY) – 09:52 (148) -23
December Leonis Minorids (DLM) – 10:16 (154) +34
Comae Berenicids (COM) – 11:19 (170) +21
December chi Virginids (XVI) – 2:38 (189) -09
Ursids (URS) – 12:43 (191) +77
December kappa Draconids (DKD) – 13:18 (199) +66
December Sigma Virginids (DSV) – 13:16 (199) +07
December Alpha Draconids (DAD) – 13:43 (206) +57
05:00-06:04 UT (00:00-01:04 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 5.90; facing SSE60 deg; teff 1.00 hr
GEM: sixty-five: -4; -3; -2(2); -1; 0(3); +1(12); +2(12); +3(15); +4(15); +5(3)
MON: one: +3
Total meteors: Sixty-six
06:04-07:04 UT (01:04-02:04 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.00; facing S55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
GEM: sixty: -3; -1(2); 0(8); +1(6); +2(10); +3(16); +4(8); +5(9)
MON: one: +3
HYD: one: +4
Sporadics: four: +3(2); +4; +5
Total meteors: Sixty-six
07:04-08:16 UT (02:04-03:16 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.24; facing S55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
GEM: eighty: -3; -2(3); -1(2); 0(7); +1(11); +2(11); +3(17); +4(17); +5(11)
HYD: four: +3(2); +4; +5
NOO: one: +4
COM: one: +3
DAD: one: +4
Sporadics: three: +4(3)
Total meteors: Ninety
08:16-09:24 UT (03:16-04:24 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.50; facing SW50 deg; teff 1.01 hr
GEM: one-hundred-and-ten: -4; -1(2); 0(9); +1(11); +2(20); +3(19); +4(25); +5(23)
COM: three: +4; +5(2)
DAD: three: +4(2); +5
MON: two: +4(2)
HYD: two: +3; +5
URS: two: +2; +3
DSV: two: +2; +5
EHY: one: +5
DLM: one: +2
Sporadics: four: 0; +3; +4; +5
Total meteors: One-hundred-and-thirty
09:29-10:05 UT (04:29-05:05 EST); 3/5 trans; F 1.11; LM 5.50; facing SW50 deg; teff 0.60 hr
GEM: fifty: -5; -3; -2; -1(5); 0(6); +1(5); +2(6); +3(9); +4(11); +5(5)
HYD: one: +4
EHY: one: +2
DLM: one: +1
COM: one: +4
DSV: one: 0
Sporadics: four: +2; +4(3)
Total meteors: Fifty-nine
Total meteors for this session: 411
Hello, very impressing, I am now with 2 EOS cameras, Canon 550D and very expencive Leitz lens trying to catch a meteor.
Until now i did see only one meteor in a few months.
My location Is Amsterdam but in a dark section.
About the settings, now i make exposures at 5 seconds iso 1600, pls tell me your opinion, shuls i go for iso 6400 and shorter exposure?
Maybe this is not a good idea because the eos utility want 5 seconds in between 2 images.
Or is it better to go for life stream and use ufocapture?
Pls tell me what is your idea.
Regards Hugo Amsterdam
Hi Hugo, the best camera system for meteorwork currently is the RMS camera which can be purchased plug and play (see https://globalmeteornetwork.org/buy-now/) or built (https://globalmeteornetwork.org//wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page#Build_your_own_from_scratch). What’s essential for meteor registration is the time synchronization and the astrometry calibration in order to obtain high precision positions. Traditional still cameras may produce impressive images, but mostly these remain unused for any computations because the manual measuring is too time consuming. The RMS system is 100% automated and the cameras are part of a well developed network so that triangulation, trajectory and orbits computation are possible. On this page most (not all) cameras are listed. RMS is the best we can recommend. Within BeNeLux these cameras can contribute to both Global Meteor Network and CAMS BeNeLux network.