Sunday night, August 12th, in the Flint Hills to see the Perseids meteor shower with Photon Phil and Richard. We got lucky that a storm mostly missed our location. The small infrared satellite image to the right is 02:45 UTC August 13, or about 10:00pm local time.
The first few hours after dark had many nice earth grazers. After midnight when the showers radiant had risen higher in the sky we were seeing about 60 meteors per hour by my rough count. The storm complex pictured did move SE so we were affected by intermittent light clouds. This had a more adverse impact on photography than visual so I stopped taking pictures around 1:00am. This was actually a good thing since I just enjoyed the show rather than tending to equipment. Around 4:00am, about an hour before the end of true darkness, the radiant was close to being overhead and we saw a flurry of activity. Overall a very nice meteor shower. I have several images to process so I may have something to post later.
It happens that I was lucky twice that night. Around 9:30pm I was drift aligning my telescope and walked away from my equipment for a short while. When I returned I knelt down by my scope and immediately heard a rattling sound. It is an unmistakable sound. Not having my headlamp on I yelled over at the guys to bring a flashlight. Naturally I slowly backed away from the shape. It was a rattlesnake that decided he liked my tarp and was coiled up beside the cables. I was fortunate that he warned me rather than striking out, he had only been a foot or two away. Since there was no harm done we nudged him off into the taller grass away from the site. As he left I judged his length to be about two foot or so.
So I was lucky that night; my first good meteor shower in over a year and no snakebite.
Two weeks from today,? on the night of August 12th, is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Conditions are nearly ideal for us in the midwest this year. The showers peak is around midnight CDT and the radiant will rise about 22:00 CDT.? Lets hope for clear skies.
Friday night, November 17th, I met Phil in the Flint Hills for a night of meteor observing. The sky was clear and the temperatures were ok at low 40s. The wind was bothersome; steady 10mph or better all night with gusts up to 15 or 20mph at times. While not watching for the elusive Leonid meteors I was taking pictures.
New image: The Seagull nebula, IC 2177. Imaging sequence started around 2:30am. Temperature had dropped to 30 degrees F.
There were very few Leonid meteors until early Saturday morning. I saw more sporadic meteors until around 4:00am. The frequency of Leonids increased the last few hours before end of darkness with most being fast and faint streaks. Overall a weak display, Leo-NOTs as we started calling them.
October 21st was the peak of the Orionid meteor shower. It was cloudy in my area until Sunday so I missed the main show. This is unfortunate, the activity reported this year by various observers on mailing lists described higher than normal activity. That increase is confirmed by a report in the Meteor Activity Outlook by Robert Lunsford. From the page:
“The Orionids (ORI) put on a fantastic display this past weekend. Rates were three times than what were expected. Rates are still above normal at around 10-15 per hour.”
Sunday night (10/23) Phil and I met in the Flint Hills to catch Comet Swan. We were bothered by clouds all night and I was not successful in getting a good picture. By 1:00 am we were seeing many Orionids, two days after the peak. Clearly the shower had been nice this year.