2013 Perseid Meteor Shower

posted Sep 8, 2013, 8:38 AM by Jim Twellman
The moon was fairly kind for this event in 2013, but the weather could have been better.  The shower has a long "peak", and our plans were to maximize our local peak period, on Sunday Aug 12  thru the morning of the 13th.  Given plenty of consideration, we (ASEM and St Charles County Parks) did NOT publicize this event.  It was simply on our club calendar.   Here is kind of what happened:

Pre-Peak.  This was the evening of our club's monthly ASEM meeting, so we did not arrive at the park until sometime after dark.  Some "public" were already there upon arrival. 
I did not get a total people-count, will update this report if I can ascertain a number from someone else. It was probably in the 40-50-range, not unlike a Friday Night Open House.  I set up near the front with just my lounge chair and my big binos.  Grant set up nearby with Nolan's 8" scope and gave it a try out (it split the double-double in Lyra easily).  I hope that scope finds a good loving home soon.

Dew hit around 10pm, almost before it got completely dark.  Not a real heavy dew, but bad enough to cause repeated fogging of my binos, which I fought for a while.

I spent as much or more time observing and talking than I did looking out for meteors.  I also got stung on my finger tip by a wasp when plugging in a hair dryer that Amy provided to me to rid my binos of dew, and my concentration was completely down-hill from there.  I personally observed only 4 meteors and two of those were not Perseids.  I left around midnight or so, and I think there were at least 20 people still there when I left.  Many came in later on with blankets.  We had around 4 telescopes for them until around 11pm as I recall.

Despite everything, I had a good time overall, observing with my binos and chatting.  The night was mostly clear and not too warm at all.

I came to the park during the daytime, and systematically sprayed all of the electrical outlets to rid them of the offending wasps.  My vengeance-sated, I returned home for a nap and more first-aid treatment.

This night was closest-to peak for our location on our side of the globe, and it was the night we had planned on and had posted on our club calendar.  The skies were turning cloudy, and the forecast for the 13th was even worse.  My stung finger had become badly swollen, and due to it being predominately cloudy that was enough to cease my plans for going out again.

Here is Amy's report:
90 visitors came out to Broemmelsiek tonight to view meteors. Maybe 3 visitors actually saw a meteor streak.

I got to BPO at 8:30pm and there were already 25 people hanging around. The sky became unambiguously crap at 9:30 and continued to be lousy until I left. But people still kept coming. Then an equilibrium state existed for a few hours, when the number of bored people leaving equaled the number of optimistic people arriving.

I greeted people, welcomed them to the Park, and let them know what to expect (not much). Also strongly encouraged them to visit again on a clear Friday evening for the public telescope viewing.

I left around 1:40am today. There were still around 20 bodies at the Park. I will not be back on Monday evening.

Curious: no dew at all. Not a bit.

Thank goodness for Amy showing up and being an angel to all those who came to see little but the clouds.  Showing nebulae can be fun for us, but not so when it is the "Missouri Nebula" (!).  I almost cannot believe that we drew 90 people there without any type of publicizing, and on a mostly-cloudy night!

Monday August 13 was completely overcast and cloudy.  I would not be surprised if some people came to the park that night anyway, but none of our folks have admitted to it so far.  The public may have come out even with it being completely overcast, as we have seen many times before. 

I believe that a large part of the adult population are inclined to watch a meteor shower, to show their kids the "falling stars", and to relax under the stars in the summer night (before the school year starts) as they probably did once or twice when they were young.  Sometimes the moon and the weather just don't cooperate as well as we would like.

- Jim Twellman