Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Meteor Roundup So Far

  Since I missed the Perseid Meteor Shower peak last week due to bad sky conditions and my work schedule, and since weather and other factors seem to lie in the way of me observing this shower as it fades away until next year, I decided to take a little time today and go over the notes I've kept so far in 2014. I wanted to tally the number of meteors that I've seen since the year began and the number of showers, both major and minor, that I've been able to detect. Here's what I've come up with; and though it might look impressive, experienced meteor watchers can see numbers like these on one good night, not 18 nights like I've had so far!

  TOTAL METEORS SPOTTED SO FAR = 42


  TOTAL METEORS BY SHOWER:
  Sporadic (SPO) (No shower membership) = 15
  Anthelion (ANT) (Year-round source) = 5
  S. Delta Aquariid (SDA) = 5
  Lyrid (LYR) = 4
  Perseid (PER) = 3
  Camelopardalid (CAM) = 2
  Pi Piscid (PPI) = 2
  July Pegasid (JPE) = 2
  Alpha Capricornid (CAP) = 2
  c-Andromedid (CAN) = 1
  Sigma Capricornid (SCA) = 1


  METEORS SEEN BY SESSION (asterisk * means that I reported my totals for that session to the I.M.O.)

  1. AM Sunday March 16 (Unplanned Observation).
      ANT = 1, Total =1

  2. AM Sunday March 30 (Planned Observing Session).
      ANT = 1, Total = 1

  3. AM Sunday April 6 (Planned Observing Session).
      SPO = 2, Total = 2

  4. AM Thursday April 10 (Planned Observing Session).
      SPO = 1, Total = 1

  5. AM Wednesday April 23 (Planned Observing Session).
      SPO = 1, LYR = 4, Total = 5

  6. AM Saturday April 26 (Planned Observing Session).
      SPO = 1, Total = 1

  7. AM Monday May 19 (Planned Observing Session).
      Total = 0

  8. AM Friday May 23 (Planned Observing Session).
      CAM = 1, Total = 1

  9. AM Saturday May 24 (Planned Observing Session).
      CAM = 1, Total = 1

  10. AM Friday June 27 (Planned Observing Session).
        ANT = 1, Total = 1

  11. *AM Sunday June 29 (Planned Observing Session).
        ANT = 1, CAN = 1, Total = 2

  12. *AM Monday June 30 (Planned Observing Session).
        SPO = 1, PPI = 1, Total = 2

  13. *AM Friday July 4 (Planned Observing Session).
        SPO = 3, SCA = 1, PPI = 1, Total = 5

  14. AM Wednesday July 16 (Unplanned Observation).
        JPE = 1, Total = 1

  15. *AM Friday July 25 (Planned Observing Session).
        SPO = 1, ANT = 1, JPE = 1, Total = 3

  16. AM Monday July 28 (Planned Observing Session).
        SPO = 1, ANT = 1, CAP = 1, SDA = 3, Total = 6

  17. *AM Sunday August 3 (Planned Observing Session).
        SPO = 3, CAP = 1, SDA = 2, PER = 2, Total = 8

  18. PM Wednesday August 13 (Unplanned Observation).
        PER = 1, Total = 1

  There are still plenty of meteor showers coming from now through the end of the year. Hopefully I can keep getting experience watching and recording them, and get some good clear nights in which to do this.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

AM Sunday, August 3, 2014 - Meteor Observing

  Begin: 1:00 AM EDT (5:00 UT). End: 4:10 AM EDT (8:10 UT)
  Location: Backyard patio at Home. Longitude = 86° 03' 01" W, Latitude = 39° 39' 35", Elevation = 255 meters.

  Observed Showers:
  Kappa Cygnids (KCG) 284° +58°
  Alpha Capricornids (CAP) 308° -09°
  Anthelion (ANT) 323° -12°
  Delta Aquariids (SDA) 344° -15°
  Perseids (PER) 034° +55°
  (No plotting tonight, only visual counting.)

  Details:
 
  Period 1:
  Time: 1:00 AM EDT - 2:05 AM EDT (0500 - 0605 UT Aug. 3)
  Field: 330° +30° (Between Cygnus and Pegasus)
  Teff: 1.050, F: 1.000, LM = 4.50 (roughly)

  Meteor 1 - 1:00 AM (0500), CAP, 0.0 mag., Speed = 2, Wake seen, Glowing train lasted about 1 second, Whitish? Nice one!
  Meteor 2 - 1:39 AM (0539), SDA, +1.0 mag., Speed = 2-3, Wake seen, No Train, Blue-White. Scudded along close to the East horizon.
  Meteor 3 - 1:41 AM (0541), PER, +2.0 mag., Speed = 4, No Wake, No Train, No Color Noted. First Perseid of the season!

  Period 2:
  Time: 2:35 AM EDT - 4:10 EDT (0635 - 0810 UT Aug. 3)
  Field: 0° +30° (Near Alpha Andromedae)
  Teff: 1.083, F: 1.425, LM = 4.50 (roughly)

  Meteor 1 - 2:56 AM (0656), Sporadic, +2.5 - +3.0 mag., Speed = 5, No Wake, No Train, No Color Noted. Like a very fast and faint point of light. If the path were traced back the radiant would probably be Far Western Pegasus or Eastern Aquila. Too fast to count it as an Anthelion.
  Meteor 2 - 3:12 AM (0712), Sporadic, +2.0 - +2.5 mag., Speed = 4 -5, No Wake, No Train, No Color Noted. Originally in my recording I thought this could have been a Kappa Cygnid. However, the speed I estimated seems way too high for this and the radiant seems too far east; closer to the middle of Cygnus than the area between Cygnus and Draco. This meteor had a quick little flare right at the end after it seemed to end!
  Meteor 3 - 3:26 AM (0726), Sporadic, +3.0 mag., Speed = 3, No Wake, No Train, No Color Noted. When traced back the radiant for this one would have been more in the "eastern wing" of Cygnus but not too close to where the Kappa Cygnid radiant lies. It was more between the "forelegs" of Pegasus and Cygnus.
  Meteor 4 - 3:46 AM (0746), PER, +2.0 mag., Speed = 4, Wake seen, Glowing Train about one half second.
  Meteor 5 - 4:06 AM (0806), SDA, 0.0 mag., Speed = 3, Wake seen, Glowing Train lasted about a second. Maybe the nicest meteor of the night besides the first one seen!

  Notes:

  The Waxing Moon (just a day away from First Quarter) was in Eastern Virgo between Spica to its West and Mars to its East. Moonset was around 12:05 AM (0505 UT Aug. 3). The Moon looked yellowish long before setting and rusty red when it was getting close to the horizon due to haze/smoke in the air. There were some scattered low clouds now and then before midnight and through 12:45 AM, but it was clear and cloud-free during the whole time I was outside. There may have been light fog in the air that slowly increased through the night. We had that ever-present murky haze in the sky that has plagued Central Indiana for several days, that I'm fairly sure is partly or mostly due to smoke high in the atmosphere brought in by weather systems from the US West Coast. The north and west sky were bright looking and a faint salmon color. This was probably from city lights reflected off fog and haze. The low horizons in general were more lit up than the rest of the sky.


  My Limiting Magnitude estimate is based on being able to discern 4 stars in Area #7 (4.23) and 5 stars in Area #14 (4.73). Average of these two areas = 4.48. My Starry Nights planetarium program also lists Lambda Cygni as 4.50 magnitude and this star could usually be seen, faintly. This is rough but with the hazy conditions I'll stay with 4.50 mag.

  I was in the lawn chair looking high in the east. I used the counting method only and the digital voice recorder. During the first session I was okay to start with just wearing jeans and a T shirt, but started to feel chilled by the end of the session. So during the second session I put on a hooded sweatshirt. There was little to no breeze all night but it was pretty dewy and I think this added to the chill. I had an all-sky chart with me printed from the AMS Website showing the radiant positions of the active showers.

  1:00 AM - 67°F, Dew Point = 61°F, Humidity = 81%, Wind = Northwest at 6 mph, Pressure = 30.13"

  4:00 AM - 65°F, Dew Point = 60°F, Humidity = 84%, Wind = Calm, Pressure = 30.12"

  It was a noisy night! Lots of fire truck sirens nearby at the very start. There was a yard party going on two houses to my south, and it still hadn't quite wrapped up by the time I was finished. Loud kids and adults during the first session and loud intoxicated adults during the second. Awful generic hip hop music blaring from a radio during both sessions! Ugh! That yard was lit up from time to time and there was a bonfire burning, but I was sitting low enough that the lights were obscured by the privacy fence and the smoke seemed to go straight up and wasn't a problem. Besides that, there was a real chorus of singing insects out there; chirping Crickets and whirring and buzzing Long-Horned Grasshoppers including a few Katydids. There were a few Fireflies at least early on, but not many. Mosquitoes were a little bit of an issue, but I had plenty of repellent on. No aircraft were seen tonight while I was outside (we seem to have a "Sunday loll" here before dawn).

  The Pleiades were visible from over the roof of our house from about 3:55 AM on, even though I was lying in the lawn chair near the patio edge, just a couple of feet from the ground. When I'd started tonight the Great Square of Pegasus was just clearing the roof from that vantage point.



 



AM Friday, July 25, 2014 - Meteor Observing

  When I was driving home from work between about 1:45 AM - 2:40 AM the sky was generally clear and the air felt cool. This had looked like my best chance to get in any meteor watching this week and I was encouraged by the conditions. It seemed like the air was dry; there hadn't even been any dew on the Civic when I started it up at the parking lot at the plant. However, weather can be a strange thing! When I was driving west on I-74 between the London Road exit and the Pleasant View exit I ran into a surprising bank of low fog. It wasn't widespread and I was out of it just seconds after driving into it, and it wasn't enough fog to make driving difficult, but it was definitely a surprise. Then, when I was on the far Southeast Side of Indianapolis and I was driving east on Indian Creek Road between Acton Road and Hickory Road, I ran into some more low fog. This started me thinking that maybe I wouldn't have any crystal clear sky after all.

  Fortunately, the sky stayed fairly clear every time I checked while I was home, so I set up the lawn chair outside with the little table next to it, and I started getting ready for a meteor watching session. I had the charts outside, the little red light that I’d doctored up last night, and a mechanical pencil, before 3:30 AM. This is when I planned to start my session.

  Just a minute or two after 3:30 AM, however, I was startled by a very strange sound that seemed to be coming from the easement or maybe the very back part of our backyard, or my neighbors' backyard to the north. It sounded like a cross between power equipment revving up and a nasty animal growl! I also thought that I heard peeping sounds as the louder sound kept going on and on. This was honestly like nothing that I've ever heard before! I wondered if a pit bull or stray dog was attacking something nearby. I went back in the house to grab the big halogen flashlight and I shone it around the back yard for five minutes, but saw nothing. The sound was gone. I was nervous about going back out not knowing what animal had made that noise, but I kept the flashlight with me on my lap in case I heard it again. I was also annoyed that now I had less time to do the meteor watching I wanted to do! I started back up at 3:45 AM and I was outside for the next hour and 25 minutes until dawn was getting too bright at 5:10 AM.

   It was chilly enough for me to be wearing a sweatshirt and long pants. It was also dewy, and the lawn chair was a little bit wet. The dampness made it feel even chillier than it should have, and the back of my head was wet throughout the watch. The sky was clear but a little hazy due to light fog in the air. The wind stayed calm the whole time. Besides that unexplained noise that I heard when I tried to start observing I could hear some Crickets chirping and some whirring sounds from Long-Horned Grasshoppers, some local car traffic every now and then and some neighborhood dogs occasionally, and the hum of traffic a mile away on I-65 which picked up all night. Local traffic sounds also picked up as it got closer to dawn, and I heard birds singing a little after 5:00 AM. Trees were dripping dew and I could hear water drops falling now and then like very scattered and very light rain on the foliage. Between 4:50 AM through the end of the session there were a lot of low jet aircraft flying overhead from west to east. This was also a little distracting. I had no problems at all with mosquitoes, and fireflies were very few and far between tonight.

  One other negative thing about this night was that my neighbor two houses down to the south had his floodlight on the whole time! I was fortunate that my lawn chair was low enough to the ground so that I didn't have this light in my eyes directly, but it was still a distraction because it was lighting up some of the trees to my south. I’m sure that it affected my night vision a little even though the wooden privacy fence on the south part of the patio blocked most of it.

  By 4:45 AM through the end of the session the Pleiades were visible over the roof of our house, from my vantage point on the lawn chair, even though I was lying very low to the ground.

  I started to see a hint of dawn in the Northeast part of the sky just after 5:02 AM. By 5:10 AM it was noticeable enough for me to cut my meteor watching short (the limiting magnitude had dropped below 5.0.) By the time I ended I could see the entire “pentagon” of Auriga over the roof of the house and the Hyades were also well above the roof and trees, all from the edge of the patio. By 5:20 AM it was getting bright enough that stars of 4th magnitude were very difficult to see, and by 5:30 AM only stars brighter than 2nd magnitude could be seen with some 3rd magnitude stars still visible close to zenith. I think the limit of any telescope observing this time of year would have to be about 5:15 AM - 5:20 AM and meteor watching was pretty much useless by 5:10 AM. To sum it all up!

  Conditions at 4:00 AM - Temperature = 60°F,  Dew Point = 54°F,  Humidity = 80%,  Wind = Calm, Pressure = 30.06”.

  Conditions at 5:00 AM - Temperature = 59°F,  Dew Point = 52°F, Humidity = 78%, Wind = Calm, Pressure = 30.07”.

  SESSION  - 3:45 AM - 5:10 AM (7:45 - 9:10 UT July 25)
  Effective Observing Time =  77 minutes (1.2833 hours)
  Center of Gaze = 00:00 +25 (Great Square of Pegasus and close to Alpha Andromedae.)
  Cloud Cover Obscuration =  High clouds covered the north between 3:45 AM - 4:00 AM and obscured about 20% of the sky. For the other 1 hour and 10 minutes of observing the sky remained clear.
  Tree / Other Obscuration = 10% (Approximately. (1.275 for the tree cover for all of this session minus 0.0353 = 1.2397)
  Visual Limiting Magnitude = 5.05 = 5 to 6 stars in Area 6 (Pegasus) (5.08 mag.), 6 stars in Area 7 (Cepheus) (5.12 mag.), 7 stars in Area 14 (Cygnus) (4.94 mag.).

  3 Meteors Seen During This Session:

  Meteor #1 - 4:05 AM (8:05 UT July 25). Anthelion (ANT). 4.0 magnitude. Speed = 3 (Average). No wake or train visible. This was a faint one that passed from between the “head” and “forelegs” of Pegasus into the Great Square. While I was outside I decided that this could well be an Anthelion, and the plot that I made for it (on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas) also seems to bear this out, since it could have come from the Eastern Aquila part of that big spread-out radiant.

  Meteor #2 - 4:17 AM (8:17 UT July 25). Sporadic (SPO). +1.0 magnitude. Speed = 4 (Swift). No wake or train seen. This was a nice bright meteor that blazed out of the corner of my eye from between Deneb and Cepheus through Cepheus, near Alpha Cephei and Beta Cephei. I plotted it on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas. When I did this and extended the trail back, I realized that it could have been an Anthelion or one of the Capricornus-radiant showers, but the thing is, my view of it was so rough that I don’t trust the plot so much, especially extended back to another chart. For this reason I’m going to call it a Sporadic to be on the safe side.

  Meteor #3 - 4:24 AM (8:24 UT July 25). July Pegasid (JPE). -2.0 magnitude or brighter. Speed = 4 (Swift). Had a train that glowed along the path for one or two seconds! This meteor sailed from between Triangulum and Perseus through Perseus. Unfortunately, I didn't see where it ended, since it went behind the roof of our house from where I was sitting! It was almost fireball level! When I plotted this meteor on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas, I decided that the evidence was very good for it being a member of the July Pegasid shower, even though that shower peaked on July 10 and this was the last date that the AMS web page lists for that shower to be happening (July 25). The speed and direction and path length that I saw all seem to match up well. I’m at least 80% sure of it.

  1 Notable Satellite Seen During This Session:

  Satellite #1 - 5:02 AM (9:02 UT July 25). Bright and steady in brightness, about +1.5 magnitude (a little fainter than Deneb). This went right through the “forelegs” and “neck” of Pegasus heading north to south. I plotted the path of this one on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.

  The diagrams below show the meteor positions plotted tonight along with a plot of the path of the satellite that I noted, done on the BRNO Atlas.







Saturday, July 26, 2014

AM Thursday July 24, 2014 - First Variable Star Estimate This Year

  After several warm, humid, and hazy / foggy nights that were useless for doing any kind of amateur astronomy, we had some stormy weather on Wednesday morning the 23rd and a cold front moved in behind them with milder and drier air. Cloud cover for the rest of Wednesday kept the ground from drying out, I was at work until after midnight. When I was driving home from Greensburg to Indianapolis I ran into some surprisingly thick but brief low fog banks on the Interstate and the back roads. The sky was clearing out, the air was cooling, and the moisture from the rain storms was condensing near the ground in places.

  I was home by 2:30 AM Thursday, and things still didn't look promising for doing any observing. There were alto-cumulus clouds drifting across the sky from the north to the south, with stars visible in the gaps between them. At least there wasn't much fog around in my neighborhood. My plan had been to do a Meteor Watch, but I needed at least an hour of clear sky to do an IMO report. By 4:00 AM the sky was still mostly cloud-covered, with only about an hour to go until the start of dawn. That made this night "a wash" as far as the meteors went. This was also a shame because there was no moonlight interference tonight. The thin Waning Crescent Moon wasn't due to rise until the start of dawn.

  However, by 4:15 AM it looked like the clouds were finally starting to move out, and I had a backup plan in mind. There was an Eclipsing Binary Star that I'd found out about over the weekend, that was bright enough for binocular viewing. I got the 16x50 binoculars out, mounted them on the camera tripod, and took them out to the patio. I sat in a deck chair and tilted up the tripod looking east. Dawn was still half an hour away, and this star had just risen high enough to clear the roof of our house. I had the charts for it next to me, printed out over the weekend. This was actually my first variable star estimate of the year (though I'm a little embarrassed to write that!).

  At 4:34 AM (8:34 UT July 24) I estimated V1268 Tauri as 7.0 magnitude. I used the stars TYC 1811-1548-1 (approximately 6.9 V magnitude) and TYC 1811-1859-1 (approximately 7.4 V magnitude) as comparison stars. V1268 Tau was just slightly dimmer than the 6.9 star but much brighter than the 7.4 star. I think my error is easily plus or minus 0.1 magnitude. The binocular limit was 10.0 mag. or better and the naked eye limit was 5.1 where it was cloud-free (by this time most of the altocumulus had moved south of me and this part of the sky was very clear. The elevation of the star was 30 degrees east.

  This EA-type Eclipsing Binary has a period of 8.161235 days (8 days 3 hours 52 minutes) and it wasn't predicted to be in eclipse tonight, but I wanted to get an idea of how bright it was out of eclipse. The VSX site that I use lists the range as 7.42 - 8.62 V mag. What's interesting about this, however, is that the AAVSO Database has only 17 estimates in it from two observers, and all of the estimates show it brighter than the maximum given. One observer made 14 visual estimates of V1268 Tauri from late September to late October 2005. All of them were 6.9 - 7.0 magnitude. A second observer made three CCD or Photometric estimates from the end of December 2010 to early January 2011. All of these were also close to 6.9 magnitude. I wonder how the listed brightness range and period were generated? Also interesting; there's no eclipse duration listed in VSX, so I'm not sure how much time the fall and rise in brightness takes. This makes this star well worth observing in the future!

  The next predicted eclipse for V1268 Tauri is 2:57 UT July 29, or 10:57 PM EDT on Monday, July 28. If skies are clear next Tuesday morning I'm going to try to make another estimate of it and see if the prediction is accurate. Here's the finder chart I printed using the AAVSO's VSP tool online. V1268 Tauri is very easy to find since it lies between Zeta Persei (the bright star at the top of the chart) and the Pleiades Cluster (shown near the bottom).


Saturday, July 5, 2014

PM Thu. July 3 - AM Fri. July 4, 2014 - Meteor Observing

  Thursday evening the 3rd started out with the sky partly covered in low clouds, and these clouds persisted through midnight. I had been hoping to get in more meteor observing now that high pressure had moved in and cleared some of the humidity away, but I nearly gave up until after 2:00 AM. I looked outside to see that the clouds were gone, and it was very clear. An hour later I had the lawn chair set up on the patio, and I had my charts and my note-corder ready. It was chilly enough that I needed to put a sweatshirt on, and the cooler and drier air discouraged mosquitoes. I didn't need any repellent. The fireflies were also gone tonight; probably due to the chillier conditions.

  I ended up having a very productive night. I was able to observe and plot five meteors, and a couple of them were bright and impressive. I also spotted several interesting artificial satellites. Here are the details:

  SESSION = 3:05 AM - 4:35 AM (7:05 - 8:35 UT July 4)
  Center of Gaze = 23:00 + 35° (345° +35°)
  Effective Observing Time = 79 minutes (out of 90).
  Cloud Obstruction = 0% (No clouds at all the whole time. Very clear. No moonlight interference since the Waxing Crescent Moon set several hours earlier.)
  Tree / Other Obstruction = 10% or less.
  Visual Limiting Magnitude = 5.03

  5 Meteors Seen During This Session:

  Meteor #1 - 3:14 AM (7:14 UT July 4). Sigma Capricornid (SCA). (The more I check my plot it seems it came straight from this radiant, and the speed also matched.) +2.0 magnitude. Speed = 3. No wake or train and no notable color. This meteor went from just barely west of Delphinus to close to the center of the Northern Cross of Cygnus. I plotted this meteor on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.

  Meteor #2 - 3:29 AM (7:29 UT July 4). Sporadic. (See detailed notes.) 0.0 magnitude (As bright as Vega at least!) Speed = 3. Wake that lasted about a second. No long-lasting train. Unfortunately I caught this meteor on the edge of my field of vision as it passed between Cepheus and Cassiopeia heading north. It was the best one of the night! I plotted this meteor on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas.

  Meteor #3 - Approximately 3:45 AM (7:45 UT July 4). Sporadic. + 3.0 magnitude, Speed = 3. No wake or train seen and no color noted. This meteor whizzed right through the constellation of Cepheus. Like meteor #2, there’s a slight possibility that this one could have been an ANT or SCA, but my plot’s accuracy this far away in the sky leads me to believe that I should probably just label it as sporadic. I plotted this meteor on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas.

  Meteor #4 - 3:55 AM (7:55 UT July 4). Pi Piscid (I’m very sure of this). + 4.0 magnitude. Speed = 4. No wake or train and no color noted. This one zipped by quickly through the “forelegs” of Pegasus. It was so fast and dim that I barely saw it. I plotted this meteor on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.

  Meteor #5 - 4:01 AM (8:01 UT July 4). Sporadic. +1.0 magnitude (about as bright as Deneb). Speed = 3. This meteor had a noticeable wake for a second or more, but not a long-lasting train. This was the only meteor that showed any color tonight. I thought that it looked yellowish. It zipped from the “neck” of Pegasus to the Water Jar area of Aquarius. It wasn’t a long path but it was a very bright, showy meteor. I plotted the path on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.


  Several Satellites Seen During This Session, these were the Notable Ones:

  Satellite #1 - 3:40 AM - 3:41 AM (7:40 - 7:41 UT July 4). Flared to -4.0 magnitude (as bright as Venus at least!) when I saw it, several degrees below the "Water Jar" in Aquarius, then faded to +4.0 as it passed through Pegasus. Lost sight of it when I saw Satellite #2. (I did not plot this satellite, but see notes for Satellite #2 and detailed notes.)

  Satellite #2 - 3:41 AM - 3:43 AM (7:41 - 7:43 UT July 4). Flared to -4.0 magnitude (as bright as Venus at least!) when I was trying to grab the 7x50 binoculars to look at Satellite #1! The flare took place very close to where Satellite #1 had flared; several degrees south of the "Water Jar" in Aquarius. It faded rapidly at first and then gradually and I was able to follow it into the Great Square of Pegasus. At 3:43 AM it passed the star pair of Tau and Upsilon Pegasi about four times their distance to the east. By that time it was about +4.0 magnitude or fainter and I lost sight of it. I plotted this one on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas and I believe this satellite was in the same orbit as Satellite #1 and followed a very similar path. (See detailed notes.)

  Satellite #3 - 4:05 AM (8:05 UT July 4). I spotted this one as a slowly varying object just north of the Great Square of Pegasus, pulsing slowly between about +3.0 and +4.0 magnitude. When it was within the Great Square and a little northwest of the stars Tau and Upsilon Pegasi, it briefly flared up at least as bright as Vega (0.0 magnitude) and then fell back to about +4.0 magnitude. I saw it pass just west of Tau and Upsilon Pegasi using the 7x50 binoculars, then it faded completely out of view and I lost it. It was headed toward the area of Pisces and Aquarius, and I kept looking, but saw no more flare-ups. I plotted this satellite on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas, but it was from memory after the session was over, and I’m not entirely sure about the accuracy of the start and end of the path that I drew.

  Satellite #4 - Approximately 4:35 AM - 4:37 AM (8:35 - 8:37 UT July 4). I spotted this one as it flew between Cassiopeia and Perseus, headed toward the Great Square of Pegasus. It seemed to be +3.0 magnitude normally but flared up a little in brightness now and then. Just before entering the Great Square of Pegasus it flared briefly up to at least +1.5 magnitude in brightness. Then it dimmed and passed just east of the stars Tau and Upsilon Pegasi before fading out of sight. I plotted the path of this one on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas, but this plot was from memory after the session was over and there may be errors to it.

  Here are the plots of the meteors seen tonight:





Tuesday, July 1, 2014

PM Sun. June 29 - AM Mon. June 30, 2014 - Meteor Observing

  For the second night in a row, well after midnight this time, the sky cleared out enough for me to get some meteor observing done. The minor showers that I looked for on Saturday evening through Sunday morning were all still predicted to be active. Here's how it went:


  SESSION #1 - 2:00 AM - 3:00 AM (6:00 - 7:00 UT June 30)
  Effective Observing Time = 55 Minutes
  Center of Gaze = 21:30 +30 (From the “Eastern Wingtip” of Cygnus to the “Forelegs” of Pegasus)
  Cloud Cover Obscuration = 0% (No clouds seen and the clarity of the sky improved quickly between 2:30 AM - 3:00 AM)
  Tree / Other Obscuration = 10% (Approximately)
  Visual Limiting Magnitude = 5.15 (See Notes).
  (3:00 AM Conditions) Temperature = 70°F, Dew Point = 67°F, Humidity = 90%, Wind = SW at 9 mph (with some gusts that were enough to rustle the leaves on the trees), Pressure = 29.99” and Fairly Steady.

  Other Notes - Like last night it was comfortable enough to wear a T-shirt and Jeans outside on the lawn chair. I put on plenty of repellent. There were some Crickets chirping away in the background but not too many. The air was full of Fireflies and this was a real distraction when they flashed around me in the treetops or flashed while whizzing overhead and imitated meteors. It definitely felt humid but the occasional breezes helped. There was dull roar of distant traffic and a few high jet aircraft passed overhead, and the occasional dog barking. But it was a very quiet Monday morning in the neighborhood overall.

  When I started this session I could see almost all of the Great Square of Pegasus over the roof of the house from the lawn chair (except for Gamma Pegasi) but by the end the whole Great Square could be seen along with most of the bright stars of Andromeda. The Milky Way was obvious like a long faint cloud through Cygnus and all the way to Cepheus and Cassiopeia. I thought the sky looked murky when I started but, especially between 2:30 AM - 3:30 AM, the sky transparency improved dramatically and even faint stars appeared like bright pinpoints against the darkness. It was clearer than last night!

  2 Meteors Seen During This Session:

  Meteor #1 - 2:22 AM (6:22 UT June 30). Sporadic. 4.0 magnitude. Speed = 4 (Swift). No wake or train and no color. This meteor flashed from just east (below) Omicron Andromedae to just east (below) Iota Pegasi. I determined that it had to be sporadic because, tracing the path back, the radiant would have at least had to have been in Southern Cassiopeia. I plotted it on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.

  Meteor #2 - 2:56 AM (6:56 UT June 30). Pi Piscid (PPI) meteor almost for sure! 2.0 magnitude. Speed = 2 (Slow but see details), This meteor left a wake or train that lasted a second or more. It was near the radiant for the Pi Piscid Shower and I think this was the reason it seemed slower than these meteors should be. It seemed to come from right behind the roof between near Eta Andromedae to past Delta and Pi Andromedae. It was a pretty spectacular meteor! I plotted this one on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.

  1 Satellite Seen During This Session:

  Satellite #1 - Seen around 2:53 AM (6:53 UT June 30). 3rd magnitude in brightness and steady. This satellite passed from just west (above) Deneb to just west (above) Alpha Cephei.

  (Visual Limiting Magnitude Determination for Session #1 -
  2:17 AM - 6 stars in Area 7 (5.12), 7 stars in Area 14 (4.94), 6 to 7 stars in Area 13 (5.20).
  2:28 AM - 7 stars in Area 13 (5.42), 7 stars in Area 14 (4.94), and 6 stars in Area 7 (5.12).
  2:35 AM - 6 stars in Area 7 (5.12), 8 stars in Area 14 (5.06), and 7 stars in Area 13 (5.42).
  Average During This Hour = 5.15.)


  SESSION #2 - 3:15 AM - 3:25 AM (7:15 - 7:25 UT June 30)

  This one was a bust. The sky conditions were deteriorating as I sat outside with a lot of high cloud cover moving over the sky. I’d thought that high clouds had started to cover the Northern part of the sky  by the end of my first session, but now they were definitely over the rest of the sky. I could see faint bands and mottling, and the Visual Limiting Magnitude had dropped to about 4.36. (3 stars in Area 7 and 4 stars in Area 14). It was getting the point where 4th magnitude stars were hard to see and only 3rd magnitude stars were obvious. There was just a general bright haze over the sky. It looked like the cloud cover I’d seen moving our way on satellite images online had arrived for good.

  Here are the two meteors seen tonight, plotted on the BRNO Atlas.



PM Sat. June 28 - AM Sun. June 29, 2014 - Meteor Observing

  After two weeks of moonlight, clouds, haze, fog, stormy weather, and so on, the sky finally cleared out enough over the weekend to do some meteor watching. I had five minor showers in mind that are visible in late June to early July.. For the evening the June Bootid and IMO #95 were well placed in the sky, and for the predawn hours there were three more, the Pi Piscid, c-Andromedid, and IMO #94 showers. Though none of these (usually) produced spectacular shows in the sky, I was eager to try to observe and plot some meteors and get my first report sent to the IMO. Here's how everything went:

  SESSION #1 - 11:30 PM - 12:30 AM (3:30 - 4:30 UT June 29)
  Effective Observing Time = About 55 minutes.
  Center of Gaze =17h +30 (Near Keystone of Hercules) high in the South.
  Cloud Cover Obscuration = about 5% (10% high clouds near the first half hour to 0% during the last half hour. Sky clarity improved dramatically during this session helped by increasing breeze.
  Tree/Other Obscuration = 10%
  Visual Limiting Magnitude = 5.07
  Temperature = 75°F. Dew Point = 69°F. Humidity = 82%. Wind = South at 12 mph. Pressure = 30.06".

  Other Notes - In lawn chair on the patio. I was comfortable in a T-shirt and Jeans. I also had on plenty of repellent. There were lots of distracting fireflies in the trees and zipping through the air and these were very distracting. Some Crickets could be heard. There was also a lot of neighborhood noise from Saturday evening parties including voices, cars revving, music, and so on. Low planes occasionally flew over. When I started this session there may have also been some residual smoke in the air because of fireworks being lit off all over the place earlier in the evening, and a professional fireworks show in Greenwood. During this session I heard a distant fireworks explosion every now and then. There was enough breeze to stir the leaves on the trees out there, especially during the last half hour. I think this also helped to clear some of the “murk” out of the air.

  0 Meteors Seen During This Session:

  I saw no meteors at all; not even Sporadics or Anthelions. Much less any sign of JBO or #95 meteors. This was pretty disappointing.

  3 Satellites Seen During This Session:

  Satellite #1 - Seen around 11:56 PM. This seemed to be a slowly tumbling object, 3.0 magnitude at the brightest. It went from the area near Pi and Rho Herculis to just west of Beta and Gamma Draconis (the twin stars of the “Head” of Draco). (I played this satellite path on Page 3 of the BRNO Atlas.)

  Satellite #2 - Seen around 12:04 AM. This one was very faint and steady. This one glided through Eastern Hercules. (I didn't bother to plot this one since it was steady and I’m more interested in looking for tumbling or flaring satellites.)

  Satellite #3 - 12:11 AM - 12:12 AM. This was a very interesting satellite. This passed from Southeast Hercules to Northeast Ophiuchus and though it was usually 2nd magnitude, it flared up twice to 1st magnitude or more (at least as bright as Deneb) as I watched it slowly move south and east. Then it faded into the Earth’s shadow in Ophiuchus. (I plotted this satellite path on Page 9 of the BRNO Atlas.)


  SESSION #2 - 12:30 AM - 1:30 AM (4:30 UT - 5:30 UT June 29)
  Effective Observing Time = About 57 minutes.
  Center of Gaze = 18h +30 (Eastern Hercules) high in the South.
  Cloud Cover Obscuration = about 5% (0% during the first half hour to about 10% high cloud cover during the last half hour, though the thickest high cloud cover stayed to the North).
  Tree/Other Obscuration  = about 10%
  Visual Limiting Magnitude = 5.02
  Temperature = 74°F. Dew Point = 69°F. Humidity = 85%. Wind = South at 12 mph. Pressure = 30.06".
  Other Notes - Same setup as before. Things quieted down a lot outside with fewer party noises heard around the neighborhood.

  0 Meteors Seen During This Session.

  0 Satellites Seen During This Session.


  SESSION #3 - 3:00 AM - 4:15 AM (7:00 - 8:15 UT June 29)
  Effective Observing Time = 67 minutes.
  Center of Gaze = 22:30h +45 (Lacerta) fairly high in the East.
  Cloud Cover Obscuration = about 10% (It ranged from 10% - 30% during the first half hour with high cirrocumulus bands but 10% or less during the second half hour. High thin cloud cover increased to the point where I had to call off observing during the final 15 minutes).
  Tree/Other Obscuration = 10% or less.
  Visual limiting magnitude = 4.86
  (4:00 AM Conditions) Temperature = 73°F. Dew Point = 67°F. Humidity = 81%. Wind = South at 8 mph (though there were gusts now and then that felt stronger than the ones I'd felt earlier in the evening). Pressure = 30.03".

  Other Notes - Same setup as before. It was very quiet now with just distant traffic heard. There was a soft Cricket chorus like before and fewer Fireflies. There was an even gustier breeze this time than there had been earlier in the night.

  By 4:00 AM there were some fairly thick high clouds starting to move in from the West, and though I wanted to stay out until dawn to get in a 4th hour of meteor observing tonight, conditions just didn’t let this happen. I stayed out as long as I could until the clouds had moved into the high Eastern part of the sky where I was watching, and then I had to call it quits for the night.

  2 Meteors Seen During This Session:

  Meteor #1 - 3:44 AM (7:44 UT June 29). Sporadic. 3.0 magnitude. Speed = 4 (Swift). No wake or train and no color. Went from the middle of Cepheus to just north of Iota Cephei. It had a very short path, and I had to count it as sporadic since it didn't correspond with any radiant that I knew of. It didn't even seem to be from a radiant where the JBO or IMO #95 showers would be. (I plotted the path for this meteor on Page 1 of the BRNO Atlas.)

  Meteor #2 - 3:54 AM (7:54 UT June 29). c-Andromedid (90% sure!) 3.0 magnitude. Speed 4-5 (Swift to Very Swift). No wake or train and no color. The more I looked at the path both out under the stars (and also on the chart where I plotted it) I was convinced that this was a CAN meteor! (I plotted the path of this meteor on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.)

  Several Satellites Seen During This Session: (1 Plotted)

  Satellite #1 - Spotted at 4:02 AM (8:02 UT June 29). This was by far the most interesting of several satellites seen during this session. I spotted it as a very bright object of at least -2.0 magnitude or brighter; much brighter than any star in the sky and possibly as bright as Jupiter (but less bright than I remember Venus to be). It was just Southwest of the Circlet of Pisces. I trained my 7x50 binoculars on it and it faded to 3.0 and 4.0 magnitude as it crossed the Circlet of Pisces. I then lost it. I kept looking toward Pegasus to see if it would flare up again, but it never did. (I plotted this satellite path on Page 6 of the BRNO Atlas.)

  I included my plots for the two meteors seen tonight; the Sporadic in Cepheus and the c-Andromedid seen in Pegasus. I'm actually a bit excited about the second one, since this is a fairly newly discovered minor shower and I don't think many of the meteors in this stream have been documented visually.