Re: (meteorobs) Re: Request for comments: "Hot Falling Stars o

nmcleod@peganet.com wrote:
>I really hesitate to accept it at face value with the less-than-thrilling
>rates that I usually see in excellent skies.  The Perseids are a reasonably
>good shower with occasional better displays.  Definitely not a  "reliable"
>shower, in the sense of  "best of the year",  which I so often read about in
>popular literature.  If  "high rates"  means 30 to 40/hour, then, yes, we
>are all right; this is a good display for casual watchers.  The public isn't
>going to see 100/hour very often, even from dark skies.  Joan has been with
>me for 3 Perseid maxes in the 1990's (but not last year)  and wasn't
>impressed with any of them after seeing the Geminids.

I have been keeping records of all my observations since 1991, even 
though I started to send them to Robert Lunsford only in early 1995.

In past years, I have had a successful trend of seeing the Perseids at or 
near peak during clear nights. Those years were 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996 
and 1997. Nearly all produced a dramatic increase of high activity during 
the last couple hours before dawn. Only 1996 failed to do that. It 
produced consistently "moderate" rates all night and was somewhat a 

Here below is a summary and impressions of my Perseids seen on August 
11/12 each years. All observations are from areas near Ottawa, Ontario, 
Canada (-75.4 W; Lat: 45.3 N) except for 1997 which is 2 hours drive 
north-west from Toronto.

So far, the only year I had clear skies on both 11/12 and 12/13. 
Unfortunately, my data that year is more limited because of my limited 
experience that time. Activity rapidly picked up from "average" in 
the evening to "very good" in the early morning. My "bedroom window" 
observing with very bright streetlights in front of me still produced 
17 Perseids between 4:30-4:45 EDT.

Despite a bright, nearly full moon, I was surprised by a very steep 
increase of activity 1 hour before dawn. Between 3:45-4:45, 33 Perseids 
were seen under limiting mag only about 5.2. There was heavy dead time 
during this period as I was writing down every meteor detail and also 
trying to manipulate a camera. At times, bursts of 3-4 Perseids in one 
minute. In 
all, 118 Perseids that night. 

My first "real dark" sky viewing of the Perseids near peak. Observing 
from  an isolated provincial park between Ottawa and Toronto (lim. mag. 
that year produced an activity curve very similar to 1992. Low, 
disappointing rates early, but a rise until it got to 53 in the last 
dark hour. 149 Perseids that night.

From my suburban backyard (LM of 5.8), the shower turned out to be much 
weaker with rates no better than 31/hr. Other family members came out to 
see, and were not very impressed.

The best one yet! Activity rose from "average" early in the evening to 
"EXCELLENT!" in the early morning (according to my vocabulary). Under
dark limit. mag. 6.6 skies, I recorded an amazing 121 Perseids between 
7:39-8:40 UT. There were times when 5 Perseids would appear within the 
minute! My voice kept talking in the recorder as fast as it could as 
more meteors flashed overhead. Total 379 Perseids that night. 

Pierre Martin
Ottawa, Ontario, CAN
Graphic Designer (National Aviation Museum) 
Visual meteor observer
Ottawa Astro Observers Group