10/2006 Orionid Shower Spectacular! PDF Print E-mail

KillylaneFollowing on from the successful EAAS Perseid viewing night in August, the weekend of the Orionid meteor shower was anticipated as another opportunity for some good viewing, this time in moonless conditions. However, from the onset, predicted weather conditions played havock with the schedules until the Friday night, when we went ahead regardless. The observing location was Killylane Reservoir, Shanes Hill.

Google Earth view of Killylane Reservoir, BT42 3EP.
Multimap road map showing Killylane Reservoir.

For the first couple of hours darkness there were excellent viewing conditions as the clouds broke up to reveal a dark, clear and transparent sky. The meteor sighting started to rise quickly, as the viewers, including three new members, were treated to the start of the show, due to peak on the Saturday morning. In addition, we got some good views of Messier 13, 45, 31, 57 and The Veil Nebula, among other objects, and got a chance to show the new members some of the sights. Unfortunately after perhaps 90 minutes the clouds closed in, and despite all our hopes, never fully cleared again. Later on, Andy Johnston and our chairman Mark Stronge arrived to mostly cloudy skies. For 3 hours we watched the sky partially clear and cloud with around 20% clear at any one time. Over that period we were treated to 3 possible fireballs, one of which blazed through the clouds, the path clearly visible despite the dense cover. The total meteor count from 11pm to 01:30am was around 10-15 and considering the cloud, this was exceptional. After midnight, there seemed to be some Aurora activity, with colours shifting from whitish green to faint red, but attempts by Eamonn Keyes and Mark Stronge to photograph the phenomenon were hindered by light pollution.

Saturday night started with clear skies, raising our hopes, but again, after an hour, the clouds moved in from the South, just as we were picking up meteor trails again. We were left for long periods watching an experienced and exasperated Neil Patterson struggle to set up a disobedient telescope as our only entertainment !

We left relatively early as the rain set in, disappointed in the short viewing times we’d had over the weekend, and tantalized by what we’d witnessed. Overall, a great show and the preceding nights brought yet more Orionids and an outburst in Comet SWAN.

 

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