Anyone see the Geminids? The forecast was not promising so I nearly didn’t bother, but I could see some slivers of starlight through breaks in the cloud as I returned from my astronomy class at about 10pm, so decided to stay up. I went out at about midnight and stayed until about 0115 when thicker cloud rolled in. Until then, the conditions had been fair to good, with bands of high light haze, but not enough to extinguish the Geminids. The seeing was middling but transparency good, with naked eye hints of the open clusters in Auriga during clear spells. I saw 35 Geminids in all, about half were bright, mag 1 – 0 or better and a handful were very bright – mag 3 – 4, I reckon. I was very pleased with this tally, which seemed to me quite consistent with a lone observer and a ZHR prediction of 120 – 140. I didn’t notice any trains, but these may have been lost in the faint haze. I did notice that on a few occasions the Geminids appeared to arrive in ‘batches’ i.e. none for a few minutes then 3 – 5 within 30 secs or less. I’m not sure whether this was an observing qurk or a real effect.
I also saw 5 non – Geminids, 4 of which were quite bright (mag 1 – 0) moving more or less North/South from the region of Ursa Major. This looked an unlikely coincidence of sporadics so I checked the websites and discovered that the Ursids, (radiant in Ursa Minor) are due to peak on Dec 22nd at a ZHR of 10 or so. Problem is, not much is supposed to happen either side of the peak – but my observations would seem to conflict with that. I remain convinced that I actually witnesssed 2 meteor showers last night.
Despite the cold I was quite fed up when the cloud rolled in!!