Geminids from the Netherlands.
13/14 december: a great Geminid display! Weather predictions looked not so good for this night in de center and eastern parts of the Netherlands: there would be some clear spells but immediately followed by the formation of fog or low clouds. However, the Dutch weather institute KNMI expected a very clear sky with dry air in the northwestern and western parts of our country. After a phone call of Sietse Dijkstra, we dicided to go to Jos Nijland, a well known meteor observer living in this area.
At my home I set up both CAMS systems and all sky camera for the coming night. Sietse arrived at Ermelo at 15:45 UT. After a quick bite we headed to Benningbroek. It was raining at that time... Near Lelystad we saw the first clear spells in the sky. We arrived at Jos' home around 17:30 UT. Jos was buzy with the old and famous "Hazen batterij", a analog camera array with 11 Canon T70 camera's. Jos and Hans Betlem would do simultaneously photograpic observations between Benningbroek and Leiden. After the camera's were tested and provided with film (good old Tri-X) we had to wait to 20:00 UT. At that time the cameras would be opened simultaneously at both locations. And so it did. During this Sietse and I saw a nice Geminid earthgrazer with 100 degrees path. There were still a lot of clouds (75% coverage).
Then we left quickly to Dijkgatsbos, to Dutch standards a very dark location near the IJsselmeer (52⁰53'21,8" N, 05⁰04'08,6" E). During this trip the amount of clouds rapidly decreasing. It was busy at Dijkgatsbos with some astrophotographers and families with kids enjoying the Geminids. We quickly installed us, the sky was dark and pristine.
Picture 1: very scenic picture made by Maurice Toet, al well known Dutch astrophotographer (http://www.dutchdeepsky.com/index.html).
I started under a very bright sky with a limiting magnitude of 6,6: very good to Dutch standards. Immideately Geminids were seen. After 30 minutes we had to stop twice shortly (7 and 8 minutes) because of some passing fields of clouds. After that it remained clear until 3:30 UT. At 23:00 UT a 50% moon appeared above the horizon, but the first two hours she was still behind the trees behind us. Also, after a while the air was very dry. One of the guys who was with us and observe regularly at this site mentioned he had never had seen such a clear sky at this location!
Geminid activity on the rise: first hour 52, second hour 96 and the third hour I counted 127 Geminids (between 23:10-00:15 UT, T.eff 1,07 hr, Lm 6,45). Sometimes we saw 2 Geminids at once, or 5, 6, 7 within seconds followed by a quieter period. Despite the rising moon in the sky, the counts of the Geminids remained at the same level. I counted 92, 104 and 93 Geminids (~1.00 hour periods).... The last 0,23 hours I counted 18 Geminids. After 3:30 UT clouds appeared again and we had to stop.
Picture 2: another beautiful picture taken by Maurice Toet (http://www.dutchdeepsky.com/index.html). There was some groundfog, but after 0:30 UT the air was very dry.
During the whole period the most Geminids were in the range of magn. +2, +3 and +4. Also some brighter ones were seen. No real fireballs, only two of magnitude -3. But what a show it was! In total I observed during 6,40 hours 657 meteors (582 Geminids, 6 ANT, 3 Hydrids, 1 early Ursid and 65 sporadic meteors). Jos Nijland and Sietse Dijkstra observed also during the whole period. I expect a large set of observations from them to!
When I came home (Ermelo, the Netherlands) I looked at the images taken with my all sky camera and the CAMS systems: a period of 30 minutes clear sky in the evening and after 6:00 UT during dusk.... So it was a very good decision to leave to Dijkgatsbos! The CAMS systems recorded 15 meteors, the all sky camera recorded nothing.
Picture 3: a bright Geminid captured in the early morning of december 14, 2014 at 06:23:45 UT. CAMS 352.
14/15 december 2014: in the evening a clear sky above Ermelo and before the clouds came in I could watch for 2,5 hour looking for nice Geminid earthgrazers. In that period (17:00 until 19:390 UT) I counted 17 Geminids. The best ones were two of magn. +1 with very long path's throught the sky. In total I counted 23 meteors (6 SPO).
Picture 4: composition of some bright Geminids captured with CAMS 352 station during the evening of december 14, 2014. The bright star is Capella (alpha Auriga). There is one sporadic meteor visible on this image, which one is it?
Picture 5: another composition of bright Geminids captured in the evening of december 14, 2014. Stars of the constellation of Aries are visible. CAMS 351.