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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Geminids - Skunked by Clouds on Monday Night

The worst dust storm in many years began subsiding Monday afternoon, raising my hopes that we would have calm and clear skies for the peak of the Geminids meteor shower. However, early in the evening a slight rainbow encircling the first quarter moon did not bode well for the evening. By midnight, the sky looked like it might clear, so I dressed warmly, packed my small Brandon 80mm wide-field refractor and eyepieces, threw the sleeping bag and camping mattress in the back of the car, and headed up the hill to my favorite observing site.

By the time I arrived a thin cloud cover had moved back in, and high cirrus clouds covered a mackerel sky.  Despite the clouds which made the constellations look totally unrecognizable, I spotted 8 meteors in 20 minutes. This bodes well for a very strong showing of the Geminids this year. However, within an hour of my arrival, the cloud cover thickened and I beat a retreat to wait for tomorrow night. The Geminids have a very broad peak, so observing on Tuesday and Wednesday nights should prove rewarding as well.

If you have clear skies, I hope you've been outside watching the best meteor shower of the year. No optical equipment is needed. Just your eyes and the patience to watch the night sky.

Good viewing!

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