2015 Perseids: early reports

Moonlight hindered observation of this year’s Perseids up to and including the first week of August. However, as Perseid maximum approached, many parts of the UK enjoyed clear skies, although a meandering weather front caused problems for some observers in the south of England.

Aug 10-11

Tony Markham (Leek, Staffs) was able to take advantage of clear skies and observed for 3 hours (21:44-00:44 UT, LM 5.1-5.4), seeing 20 Perseids and 9 other meteors. The brightest was a mag -2 Perseid at 23:18 UT, which left a train, parts of which persisted for 6 seconds.

Aug 11-12

Tony was once again able to take advantage of clear skies and observed from Leek for 4 hours (21:40-01:40 UT, LM 5.1-5.4) before the clouds rolled in. Tony recorded 48 meteors, including 30 Perseids.

The brightest meteor seen by Tony was a mag -4 Perseid at 00:35 UT which left a train that persisted for 25 seconds, splitting in two lengthwise and distorting significantly in the high altitude atmospheric winds.

This meteor was also imaged by William Stewart (Ravensmoor, Cheshire) via his NE facing camera and his image is reproduced here, showing the meteor passing between Cassiopeia (bottom left) and Cepheus.

Alastair McBeath¬†(Morpeth) also enjoyed clear skies, recording 60 Perseids and 33 other meteors in 3.57 hours (22:28-02:10 UT, LM 6.1) – Alastair’s higher observed rates clearly demonstrate the benefits of observing from a darker observing site.

His brightest meteor was a mag -4 Perseid seen at 01:09:45 UT, which flared twice and left a train that persisted for 4 seconds.

Alastair also highlighted two Perseids (mag -3 and mag -2) that appeared less than a second apart (at 00:14:31 UT) in different parts of the sky, the former leaving a train that persisted for 12 seconds.

Aug 12-13

Despite gloomy forecasts that suggested that cloud would cover the south and midlands by late evening, many observers in these areas enjoyed a good amount of clear sky well into the night.

Robin Scagell (High Wycombe) reported seeing 30 meteors, including 27 Perseids, in 2.5 hours (LM approx 5.2) before it clouded over by 1am BST.

Richard Fleet¬†(Wilcot, Hants)¬†reported via Twitter that he saw 22 Perseids in 1 hour under “average conditions” in the early part of night, but also noted that radar echoes were picking up late in the night. This would¬†fit in with the approach to the predicted maximum time of 07h UT on Aug 13.

Richard has also posted a video clip on Flickr, showing a bright Perseid and its radar echo.

Tony Markham observed once again from Leek. Clouded interrupted his observations on several occasions but across five sessions spread through the night, he observed for 2hr29min, seeing 60 Perseids and 9 other meteors (LM 5.1-5.3).

Tony’s brightest meteor was a mag -4 yellow-green Perseid that appeared in¬†near Gamma Cas¬†at 23:21 UT and left a train that persisted for 30 seconds, although this train did not distort as much as the one¬†highlighted for¬†the previous evening..

William Stewart¬†(Ravensmoor, Cheshire) once again succeeded in capturing an image of Tony’s meteor via his NE facing camera and his image is reproduced here (the fuzzy path above the fireball is an internal reflection from it within the camera). If you’re wondering about the unusual orientation of Cassiopeia, at bottom left, this is because William’s camera is oriented at an unusual angle so as to aid triangulation with another camera in Leeds.

Alastair McBeath¬†was able to observe from Morpeth for 2.4 hours (21:45-00:17 UT, LM 5.7-5.6) before the clouds rolled in. He recorded 53 Perseids and 17 other meteors. Alastair’s brightest meteor was a mag -6 Perseid¬†seen low in the sky¬†in Capricornus at 23:21 UT which left a train that persisted for¬†16 seconds. This is presumably the same bright Perseid as recorded by Tony and William, but seen from a different angle and therefore in a different constellation.

Bill Ward (Kilwinning) reports capturing many spectra. An intensity plot for one of these is reproduced here   ,

followed by its colourised synthetic spectrum.

Bill has also tweeted that he has 38 GB of video data to process. No doubt, he’d rather have a “problem” like this than have memories of cloudy skies!