The Perseid Meteor Shower of 2016
(Originally posted August 13, 2016 on Blogger)
Last night I headed out with a couple friends, Tom, and Bill to find some dark skies under which to view the Perseid meteor shower. We met up around 8:15pm PDT hit the road, arrived at our destination by 9:45pm, and stayed out until dawn in order to watch what turned out to be the best Perseid show I've ever seen!
Right when we got out of the vehicle, an incredible green bolide exploded and fragmented low across the eastern horizon, leaving a long-lasting glowing trail even after it had exploded! Its trajectory from south towards the north (from our perspective) suggested it wasn't a Perseid, and my friend Tom thought it might have been a Delta Aquarid. Though it was the only bolide of the night, we saw at least a couple dozen fireballs!
From about midnight to 1:00 am we figured the rate of meteors to be around 45 an hour, but this increased fivefold by 3:00 am when we counted 100 meteors in 23 minutes (260/hr). Meteors were appearing so frequently we stopped counting and just laid back and enjoyed the show! If you consider that Tom, and Bill were watching the same half of sky, and I was watching the opposite half, I suppose you could more accurately say that the rate was 130/hr at its peak (for one pair of eyeballs).
It seemed the star Altair was the hot spot from about 2:00 am to 3:00 am. I was using a 50mm lens and caught a few dozen photos of meteors pointing my lens in this direction. The Hyades cluster towards Taurus seemed to be the new hot spot from around 3:00 am to 4:00 am. We were getting so spoiled by the rate of meteors that a 4-minute lull had us yelling, "C'mon!" to the sky! haha
We counted hundreds of meteors from 9:45 pm to about 5:15 am. Though I missed the bolide at 9:45 pm, I did (by pure fortune) capture a green fireball towards the radiant at about 4:45 am! Fortunately I kept the camera going because what I didn't notice was the dust cloud spreading out from the point at which the meteor apparently exploded!
I put those images together in a time lapse below. Best if you open this video directly from my YouTube page, set it to HD, and watch in full-screen! Watch the emanating reddish dust cloud!