(meteorobs) Perseid peak in Alberta

BRUCE MCCURDY bmccurdy at shaw.ca
Mon Aug 15 16:50:48 EDT 2011

Undeterred by the bright moonlight, on early Saturday morning I headed out to my primary observing site at Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, the parking lot at the Blackfoot Staging Area. Or as I called it on this night, "Brightfoot". This was my 24th consecutive Perseid peak - I have been out on the night of Aug 11/12 or 12/13 every one of those years, frequently both nights. As peak nights go this one was pretty forgettable, due to the glare of the Moon. A little high haze exacerbated that unwanted light, reducing my limiting magnitude to around 4.5 at best - still a couple of tenths better than the best of moonless city skies, but pretty poor for the "dark" site. It made the wait between meteors both longer and less interesting - no Milky Way, no Andromeda Galaxy, the faintest smudge where the Double Cluster used to be. I parked my chair in the shade of the camp shack at the south end of the lot to kill the direct moonlight and looked to the northeast - which of course was the direction in which the dawn later rose. My taped comments about conditions included remarks that the night sky seemed "sterile", and during one long lull between meteors that "the sky refuses to give up her dead".Still, I was able to view 41 Perseids in 2.25 hours Teff, for an average rate of about 18 per hour. 11 of these were in the negative magnitudes, including a pair of -4 fireballs, one of which had an impressive blue *and* green wake with a three-second persistent train. The average Perseid recorded was mag +1.1 - bright, but not surprisingly so given the conditions.  I also observed 11 other meteors, just two of which I was able to assign to another radiant, the beta Perseids. I saw no August Draconids, kappa Cynids or Eridanids, and was unable to properly account for the three southern radiants at my back so simply recorded the few south-to-north meteors I did see as sporadics. There were a few other observers on site including Greg (APOD) Scratchley and Lance (Spaceweather) Taylor who were photographing Perseids at the other end of the parking lot. During the few minutes that I came over for a chat we all saw a real nice -2 streaker in northern Auriga and Greg got a terrific image of it judging by the display on his camera. I hope to see a large scale version posted to the Astro list (hint, hint). I believe Lance may have captured that one as well. All in all not the greatest night, but I'm glad I went, especially given that for the first 1.5 hours of my session I was the only active observer to report to IMO, at least so far. Happens occasionally, but not often on a Perseid peak night! (My session summary can be found here: http://vmo.imo.net/imozhr/obsview/view.php?id=9152 )The following evening I went to a location just outside the edge of town and observed for about 45 minutes around midnight, and saw next to nothing - three total meteors including just one Perseid. Limiting magnitude was not even 4th magnitude so there is no value in filing a formal report, other than to say with some confidence that there was no post-peak outburst a la 2009. BruceMCCBR*****
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