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Meteor Madness…!

I’m late writing this up, I know, but hey, better late than never…!

Last Thursday night members of the Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal gathered up at Helsington Church to watch the long-awaited 2012 Geminid meteor shower. Previous meteor showers had been ruined by the weather, or the intrusion of the big bright Moon, so when she saw the forecast for Thursday night was clear, without any Moon to spoil things, our observing co-ordinator, Carol, put the word out that there’d be a Meteorwatch up at the church late that evening. And so, by 10.30pm, ten of us were sat in deck chairs and loungers (well, eight of us, I preferred to stand and keep awake by walking about, as did another of our observers), staring at the beautifully starry sky, ready for the show to begin..!

And it was a decent show too. Not brilliant, not fantastic, but yeah, pretty good, and between 10.30pm and just after midnight – when cloud rolled in and ruined everything – we saw easily 50 or 60 Geminids. Most were pretty average, mag 4 or 5, but a few were considerably brighter, and a couple were MUCH brighter, minus magnitudes. The most memorable of all was a slow-moving, flaring fireball, a beautiful purple-lavendar colour tinged with emerald green, which dropped towards the horizon like a stone skimming across a still lake before vanishing behind a bank of cloud. I had my camera pointed in that direction… roughly… but didn’t get a picture of it.

In fact, I didn’t get a picture of a single Geminid! Always pointing in the wrong direction, or “between exposures” as is usually the case when photographing a meteor shower, you know what it’s like. Here are a couple of my meteor-free photos…

m1

m2

Would have been nice to have had one of those crossed by a big flaring meteor, but that wasn’t to be. But to be honest, I didn’t care, it was just great to be out there, under a starry sky, with a load of my Eddington mates, having a really good laugh together. Lots of jokes, lots of silliness, and lots of shooting stars – what more could you want? :-)

There was one slightly serious side to the evening. Carol really wanted to take a special photograph as a tribute to the late Sir Patrick Moore, so we all got out our red torches and, as she took a time exposure, drew the letter “P” in mid-air… It was a lovely idea, and hey, whaddya know, it worked..!

m3

Well done Carol! Another of our members tried the same thing, and his turned out even better, but I need to ask his permission before posting his photo, so check back for that.

Sadly, just after midnight, cloud and fog covered the sky, ending our Meteorwatch, and that was that. But it had been a great evening, and we all went home happy with what we’d seen, and seen together, more importantly.

Roll on 2013, with not one but two comets for us all to enjoy observing together too… :-)

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