2017 Perseids : early reports

Late July observations

Perseid activity can be detected from the third week of July onwards. Rates are initially low, but occur alongside a number of meteor showers in Aquarius and Capricornus.

David Scanlan (Romsey, Hampshire) reported results from his three visual meteor watches in late July.

Clouds terminated the first, on July 23-24, after half an hour without any meteors seen. The following night, he recorded one Perseid and one sporadic between 21:00 and 22:30 UT (LM 5.4), while a two-hour meteor watch (20:50-22:50 UT) on July 30-31 produced one Perseid, two Delta Aquarids and two sporadics (LM 4.4).


By the end of the month, Alex Pratt (Leeds) had imaged 62 Perseids via his automated video cameras, the first being on the night of July 24-25. He had also recorded 28 Alpha Capricornids and 35 southern Delta Aquarids.

His captures included this mag -4 fireball, possibly a Perseid, imaged via his NW facing camera at 23:36:46 UT on July 30th.


Early August observations

The Full Moon of August 7 inevitably hindered observations, particularly with the Moon being very slow to move out of the evening sky afterwards.

Bill Ward (Kilwinning) reports operating five spectroscopic systems, including a number of experimental gratings, during the Perseids and capturing a number of spectra. He has posted a very interesting video showing the persistent train left behind by a very bright Perseid meteor.

The video can be viewed via this this link

David Scanlan (Romsey) observed in moonlit skies during the night of Aug 6-7, recording 1 Perseid and 5 sporadics between 20:37 and 23:07 UT (LM 4.4), the best being a mag -2 sporadic in Cygnus at 21:10 UT.

David observed again during the night of Aug 10-11, between 21:00 and 00:30 UT (LM 5.0), recording 6 Perseids, 2 Delta Aquarids and 2 sporadics. The brightest was a mag -4 head-on Perseid at 23:47 UT.

Tom Banks (Comberbatch, Cheshire) observed during the night of Aug 10-11, seeing 2 Perseids and 2 sporadics between 22:15 and 23:15 UT (LM 5.2) and then 6 Perseids and 4 sporadics between 23:44 and 01:14 UT (LM 5.2). His final observing session, between 01:28 and 02:22 UT, saw increasing cloud cover, but did include a mag -3 Perseid in Ursa Major at 02:06 UT that ended in a terminal flare.

Maximum night Aug 12-13

Clear skies were forecast for much of the UK. However, some observers still encountered issues with cloud, especially those in more southerly areas of England and in northern Scotland. Moonrise for most UK observers was at around 21:50 UT.

Richard Fleet (Wilcot, Hants) captured this image of a bright Perseid at 20:44:56 UT via his west facing camera.

He later tweeted

Some cloud around but I saw 17 #Perseids in an hour, which isn’t too bad under these conditions. 9 were first magnitude or brighter

Tim O’Brien (Manchester) also reported the results of his observations from the early part of the night

2 hours: saw 24  meteors, inc several good fireballs w trails, in light polluted skies + 2 others, 1 w multiple flares + wide trail.”

Tracie Heywood (Leek, Staffs) observed for 2 hours, between 21:15 and 23:15 UT (LM 5.1-4.9) before the sky clouded over, seeing 32 Perseids, 1 Alpha Capricornid and 5 sporadics.

A later clear spell between 01:20 and 01:51 UT (LM 4.6) yielded 9 Perseids and 1 sporadic.

15 Perseids (36%) left persistent trains.

The brightest was a mag -2 Perseid at 22:17 UT, which travelled from Draco to Ursa Major and left a train which persisted for 2 seconds.

Stuart Atkinson (Old Hutton, nr Kendal, Cumbria) reports seeing a couple of dozen Perseids between 21:30 and 22:30 UT, including some nice bright ones.

He also posted this colour image of a bright Perseid.

William Stewart (Ravensmoor, Cheshire) of the NEMETODE video camera network has reported capturing in excess of 800 meteors via his four video cameras.

By late in the night, Bill Ward (Kilwinning, near Glasgow) was reporting that his video cameras had imaged nearly 400 meteors. He later quantified this to be 482 meteors and 49 spectra. Bill notes however that his three DSLR cameras, though imaging some sporadics, didn’t capture any Perseids!

Many of his images can be seen via this Twitter post

His impressive spectra, included this one, imaged  from 23:59 UT

(The main streak is the zero-order spectrum – essentially an image of the meteor.  The lines to the left are the first order spectrum).

Bill also posted this impressive colourised version of one of his Perseid spectra :

(as in other cases, the bright green emission line is Magnesium and the bright yellow emission line is Sodium)