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Finally: Perseids 2015 at Revest du Bion, Southern France

MeteorsPosted by Koen Miskotte Sat, January 30, 2016 14:59:57

Finally some time to add a report on the Perseids 2015 on my blog. This report is originally written by Michel Vandeputte for the MeteorObs mailinglist and later updated with my own experiences.

Together with Michel Vandeputte, Inneke Vanderkerken, Laurien, Casper ter Kuile I enjoyed two weeks of meteor observing from Revest du Bion (Alpes de Haute Provence – Southern France). This time I had only one camera with me. A Canon EOS 6D with a Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 "type L" zoom fish eye lens which was used as an all sky camera. Michel had a so called SQM meter for determination of the brightness of the night sky.

Picture 1. Collapsing cumulus clouds over the rented cottage, a clear night on the way. Image credits: Casper ter Kuile.

Revest du Bion is a small village at 900m altitude settled on ‘the plateau of Albion’ between the mountain chains of the famous Mont Ventoux and Montagne de Lure. Light pollution is very minor. The first two nights were totally clouded out (August 8-9 and 9-10) under influences of a small depression with lots of rain showers and thunderstorms. On August 10, high pressure took over, creating a new series of clear skies and hot temperatures during daylight. August 10-11 and 11-12 were totally clear. The Perseid shower was getting stronger, with some beautiful fireballs, especially during august 11/12. Rates went over 50 Perseids an hour.
During August 10/11 sky cleared in the evening. I counted 211 meteors with the highest hourly count of 35 Perseids. I observed two fireballs, both Perseids of magnitude -4.

As written down, the next night (August 11/12) was totaly clear. Hourly counts go up to 60 Perseids in the early morning hours. In total I observed 329 meteors, amongst them 211 Perseids. Some beautiful Perseids were seen.

22:49 UT: -5 magnitude long flaring Perseid from Cassipeia to Draco
00:45 UT: -5 magnitude Perseid from Camelopardalis to Ursa Major
02:20 UT: -6 magnitude Perseid from Cassiopeia to Lacerta.

These bright meteors were al captured with my all sky camera (see pictures 2 and 3).

Picture 2. Composition of Perseids captured on August 11, 2015 between 21:00 and 01:00 UT. The brightest meteors were captured at 22:49 and 00:45 UT.
Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Click on the image for a better resolution.

Link to the original full size image: http://www.astrorocker.nl/Meteors/pics/2015_aa_PER_comp.jpg

Picture 3. Composition of Perseids captured on August 11, 2015 between 01:00 and 03:15 UT. Clearly visible is the zodiacal light. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Click on the image for a better resolution.

Link to the original fulle size image: http://www.astrorocker.nl/Meteors/pics/2015_a_Per_comp.jpg

The main maximum night 12/13 august 2015

Than all attention on the main maximum night! This was a bit tricky with a new frontal system moving in from the west but it was all about the timing of this system… The night started clear, but it became a bit hazy after midnight, still with a SQM over 21, we should not complain. The night started with a bunch of bright Perseids before midnight followed by a small lull in activity. Then the shower regains it forces and peaked over 100 meteors an hour, again some nice fireballs till magnitude -6! At 23:55 UT the first real fireball was seen, a Perseid of magnitude -6 from Perseus tor Camelopardalis. The persistent train was visible for one minut. Just two minutes later a magnitude -4 Perseid near Polaris! At 00:18 UT blueish Perseid of magnitude -4 in the Big Dipper and at 00:35 UT a blue-white Perseid of magnitude -3 in Pisces Austrinus. And at last a Perseid of magnitude -4 in Perseus. The all sky camera captured al these fireballs, but also two more: at 21:58 UT a magnitude -4 Perseid low in the south and at 22:49 UT a -6 Perseid also in southern direction. We were facing northeast, so we missed this fireballs.

Picture 4. Composition of all Perseids captured on August 12, 2015 between 21:00 and 00:00 UT. The two bright Perseid fireballs in het south we did not noticed... Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Click on the image for a better resolution.

Link to the original full sized image: http://www.astrorocker.nl/Meteors/pics/2015_b_PER_comp.jpg

Picture 5. Composition of all Perseids captured on August 13, 2015 between 00:00 and 03:15 UT. Most bright Perseids appeared in the north eastern direction. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Click on the image for a better resolution.

Link to the original full sized version: http://www.astrorocker.nl/Meteors/pics/2015_d_PER_comp.jpg

Picture 6. Crop of previous image.

At 02:30 UT the first signs of high clouds moved rapidly in from the west. Not critical but the limited magnitude decreased a bit. Anyway: morning twilight came as usual pretty fast after 03 UT. This was a great night! I observed 426 meteors (including 345 Perseids) in 6,85 hours effective.

Through my eyes: this seems to be a normal Perseid maximum, perhaps a bit stronger as usual thanks to the incoming Jovian perturbation on the stream for the period 2015-2017… Minor effect in 2015? It’ll be a lot stronger next year hopefully.

Back to the Provence: the frontal rain showers moved in on August 13 with some heavy thunderstorms during the evening hours and first part of the night. No Perseids but an impressive electrical storm during a big part August 13-14… Anyway; we stayed alert for possible clear holes after the bad weather front. And yes: we faced in no time crystal clear skies after 01:30 UT in the morning of August 14. Michel measured SQM higher than 21.50, a personal record value for us from the French Provence! The Zodiacal light conus was unusually bright and reached as far as Pisces! Unfortunately, our observing window was short (1.5 hours till morning twilight) but the meteor activity was very impressive with high Perseid rates!

Picture 7. Night sky on August 14, 2015. Bright zodiacal light! Click on the image for a better resolution. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds. Camera: Canon 6D. Lens: Canon EF 8-15 mm F 4.0 type L USM fish eye lens. Tripod: Manfrotto. Image details: 8 mm, ISO 3200, F 4.5, 29 seconds.

Link to original full sized image: http://www.astrorocker.nl/Meteors/pics/2015_l_zodiacal.jpg

Picture 8: Perseid fireball captured during dusk on August 14, 2015 at 3:20 UT. Click on the image for a larger version.

Picture 9. Crop of previous image.

Picture 11. Dinner in the evening sun.

Picture 12. A daily ritual in the evening, an assortment of delicious Provençal goat cheese. F.l.t.r. Inneke, Michel, Laurien and Casper.

Picture 13. Our rented Gite.

Also August 14-15 and 15-16 were influenced by a French low pressure system. Still, we were able to observe some hours under good observing conditions, but no full nights. On August 16, the weather became calm and the Mistral winds stabilized the local climate. Nights became pretty cold for the time of season but it stayed totally clear. We had good observing sessions for August 16-17, 17-18, 18-19, 19-20, 21-22. Only during 20-21, there were more clouds. The Perseids decreased in activity after August 17. The Kappa Cygnids were minor this year and disappointing.. Another highlight: a -10 sporadic fireball with multiple fragmentation throught the trees in northern direction on August 16 – 23.20 UT. It was seen by few people in France, Belgium and Germany.

So, in total this years Perseid campaign went very well! I observed 51,10 hours, resulting in 1877 meteors. My all sky camera captured ~120 meteors.





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