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Meteors, satellites and NLC's from Texel

Travels & expeditionsPosted by Koen Miskotte Mon, June 10, 2013 14:58:23

In the period from May 31 to June 7, 2013 I was on the Dutch island of Texel for a short vacation with my wife Lizzie and our three dogs. We stayed in a cottage a few miles southeast of De Cocksdorp, the uppermost northern village on Texel. Last year we were here also and I then noticed that the 100 meter deep backyard was very dark. At the front of the house stands some lonely lampposts that were shielded through the house as seen from the dark garden. The north side has a view to the horizon. A lighthouse at a distance of 5 km (northwest) gave some some inconvenience. The light beams lit up the trees a bit every 10 seconds. But it was not really a problem for observing because I looked to the southeast and the lighthouse was also behind a row of trees.
Unfortunately the weather was not good in 2012 (every night it was cloudy), but this year it was much better! Especially during the day it was often pretty clear. I had 4 mostly clear nights and I used two nights to observe meteors and satellites and took some pictures of the starry sky.

Picture 1: view in northern direction

Picture 2: view in Southern direction

Picture 3: our rented house named Grutto

1/2 June, 2013
A beautifully clear evening, but on the North Sea some clouds were lurking. After 21:15 UT I regularly went out to see if there were some noctilucent clouds (NLC's). They were not present at that time. When I walked into the garden again around 22:15 I was surprised by the sheer transparency and darkness of the sky (despite the gray nights). Around 23:30 UT the sky was phenomenal: the Milky Way was visible from Cassiopeia to just above Sagittarius! Under the well-known "star cloud" of Scutum two clear spots were observed in the Milkyway. I have rarely seen them so beautiful from the Netherlands!

Picture 4: one single shot of the Milky way (Canon EOS 40D, Canon EF 15 mm F 2.8, TC-80N3, Manfrotto tripod. F 2.8, ISO 1600 and 20 seconds exposure time. Click on the image to see a better version.

Picture 5: Composition of ISS moving throught the Milky way. Click on the image for a larger version.

Before I started observing meteors I took some pictures with my Canon EOS 40D and I wondered about the fact there already was so much to see in the display of the camera. I used my Canon EF 35mm F1.4 and Canon EF 15mm F2.8 lenses. Halfway through the meteor session I took a short break to get the ISS on the plate Because of the dark sky I could obtain a beautiful serie of photographs from the ISS while it moved through the Milky way.
The number of meteors was low as expected for this time of year. I counted 15 meteors in 112 minutes effectively, including a beautiful magnitude 0 earthgrazer with a four seconds lasting persistent train.

Picture 6: bright starry sky with typical autumn objects such as M31 (Andromeda nebula) and the double starcluster X & h Perseï. Click on the image for a better version.

Furthermore I saw visually no NLC's this night, but on a number of shots taken with the Canon EF 15 mm clearly some weak NLC’s are visible.

Picture 7: weak NLC display. Cropped picture taken on june 5, 2013 around 02:41 UT.
Camera: Canon EOS 40D with Canon EF 15 mm F 2.8 (F2.8, 1000 iso, exp. time 6 seconds). Click on the image for a larger version.

June 5/6 2013
Also this night was largely clear. Unfortunately there was quite a cold wind and the air was very moist. Between 22:30 and 23:55 UT I observed 6 meteors. The canon EOS 40 with the Canon EF 15 mm 2.8 fish eye lens captured two meteors within 5 minutes time. A bright magnitude -2 sporadic meteor in the Scutum star cloud and a second one of magnitude +1 or 0 in the constellation of Aquila. The last one I saw visually. I made a nice composition of it.

Picture 8: two meteors captured within 5 minutes. Date: june 5, 2013 around 22:40 UT. Camera: Canon EOS 40D with Canon EF 15 mm F 2.8 (F 2.8, 1600 iso, exp. time 10 s). Click on the image for a larger version.

In addition, I could observe the two hours earlier launched ATV-4 Albert Einstein, including a predecessor moving some degrees before the ATV-4 spacecraft. According to veteran satellite observer Marco Langbroek it was the upper stage of the Ariane-5 rocket that brought the ATV-4 up! The ATV4 was magnitude +1, the upper stage was magnitude +3. They moved along quite quickly because they were still in a low Earth orbit. It was a beautiful sight! This combination is also captured with the Canon EF 15 mm F2.8, but unfortunately the lens was slightly dewy. Below you find some pictures I made of ATV-4. I had to edit the images extremely to get ATV-4 and the Ariane 5 upper stage visible.

I also saw the ISS this night, it moved very high through the sky and was as brights as Venus (magnitude -4). I ended my observations at 23:55 UT because it became cloudy..

All in all two very nice observing sessions. The starry sky above Texel is (according to Dutch standards) very beautiful!

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