Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Torrid Taurids To Limpy Leonids

Well after taking more then 800 images, going through 2 camera batteries and spending 6 hours in the cold dark early morning hours of November 17, the supposed peak of the Leonid shower, I only came away with a couple of images of small Leonid meteors, now I saw quite a few but they were all but washed out by the glare of the Moonlight.

Another reason for the poor showing besides the bright Moon taking away the contrast of the meteors is the fact that the debris trail left behind by comet Tempel/Tuttle is scattered in pockets, unless we, the Earth, happen to be traveling through one of these populated areas we don't see many meteors.

Now the good news. I was walking to my car behind my office at work around 10:00 that same morning when by chance I noticed in the SW, an area that would have been just over Leo's head , a Leonid fireball, it was in the process of falling as I looked up, and then stopped, then......puff..... a white circle formed, probably the fireball breaking up, I thought great no camera, no one is going to believe this. Then I thought, my cell phone, it has a camera, pulled it out and was lucky enough to get the trail and fireball remnant.

The Next major meteor shower is the Geminids Meteor Shower. Peaks December 13 around 2:00 am, and again we have an almost Full Moon, but this shower is generally one of the more consistent ones, the average is 50 meteors an hour, but with the Moon expect to see only the brighter ones, hey still worth a look. Look to the east for the constellation Gemini around 10:00 pm on the 12th for the show to start.

As I mentioned in my previous post the next major celestial show is the conjunction of the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus December 1. Should be a show stopper, with the crescent Moon complete with earthshine, Jupiter and Venus forming a triangle. Actually you can go out just after Sunset right now and see Venus below and to the right of Jupiter. As the days pass you will see the two planets drawing closer together till on November 30 the Moon shows up below the planets, then the conjunction December 1. Speaking of conjunctions I thought I would post an image I took back in July, one of my favorites. It was almost surreal to see Saturn, then Mars then Regulus all in a straight line, then you add the crescent Moon for effect and you get cool.

I'll leave you now with an animation of that gathering.


krizcpec said...

the last image is so nice, how did you do that? Make it a gif or using some script?

kml said...

Thank goodness for the cell phones!

The moon has been pretty bright this past cycle - I wonder if the cold air has anything to do with it.

Anna said...

Oh my Bob, 800 images, that's sounds like me, lol. And how in the world do get to see the fireballs, and we have none here, lol. Thanks for sharing your adventures, and may be one day I will get out again, but for now I will stick with the moon. Amazing photos, and your gifs are the best I ever seen. Anna :)

Roger said...

You really know how to put a post together my man! Oh and just got the DVD thank you cant wait to watch it! \m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks krizcpec, thanks to Anna below she gave me the idea, go to.

upload an image to the site, then you can add animation or what ever effect you want, then you can save the gif or host it , click at the bottom of the gif, it will take you to a host site and give you a HTML code you can post on your blog.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

For sure Kathy, the colder sky are very clear and good seeing, probably has a little effect allowing more of the light straight through.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, I get to see the fireballs cause my heads always pointed towards the sky, so much so I usually bump into things as I'm walking,lol. Anna, the Geminids are coming up , you do such great meteor images, remember I emailed you for advice way back when,lol.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Roger glad you got the DVD, hope you like it.

CJ Harley said...

Hey Bob. I was fortunate enough to see a meteroite. I was coming home at about 5:30pm and saw one go across the sky. It was so amazing!

AngelBaby said...

Wow, you really are amazing this gets better and better. Great photographs too, I love the moon shot.

I have something for you at my site.

Love and Blessings,

Bob Johnson said...

Great CJ Harley, isn't it a great feeling?, seeing something from space light up the sky

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much AngelBaby, I'll be over later.

Priyank said...

800 pics? Fireballs? Staring at sky after work? Is there anyone else who thinks you are crazy Astroman? :) Good stuff Bob!

Marvin the Martian said...

You are so dedicated. When do you sleep?

Yeah, I always laugh at birders when they say "I saw a [insert rare/extinct species here]!" Prove it with a picture. Well, you did. Good on ya!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol priyank, everyone, always get the poor Bob look.

Bob Johnson said...

I don't marvin, well maybe a few hours, have to get up early for work,lol, was very lucky to get the pic of the fireball and people still give me the poor Bob look.

Daisy said...

I don't usually comment, but I wanted you to know that I really enjoy your photos and stories.

Bob Johnson said...

Hey I know, so thanks Daisy for commenting, you would get along well with my cat, mind you she comments all the time, to me, quite a complainer,lol.

Swubird said...


You are just incredible. I never met anyone who could capture the moment like you have done over and over again. I've been reading your blog for over a year now, and I can't count the times when you just happened to get the shot! My man, you are in the wrong business. You should do astrophotography for a living. It is obviously your passion.

Ever consider making up one of those photo-books like they have on line? My daughter made one for about forty bucks and it looked great. I can imagine your best work in high gloss pages, hard bound with your name across the cover.

Happy stargazing.

Sherer said...

Mr Bob,

Very very cool picture of a fireball there! It amazes me the things you catch. I also really enjoyed that conjunction shot - remarkable image!


Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, the 2 fireball pictures I've taken are definitely my fav. Thanks for the info about the book I will look into it

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jesse, I see you got your 3D glasses, hope you enjoy them.

Tyler said...

Sorry to hear about your misfortune, better luck next time eh? The pictures that turned out were great though.

--The Nuclear Man

Majase Cyc said...

Love your blog Bob; it's always entertaining, as well as informative! And here I thought I was the only one with a permanent upward crick in my neck.

Looks like the Geminids Shower is on my B-day :D Oh, a thanks heaps for the Lunapic link--I can already tell I'm going to have a lot of fun with that one, lol.

Stephen Cochrane said...

Burr! I'm too much of a wimp to enjoy getting up early and walking out into the cold. Many props to you for your courage. Keep up the good work.

Ruth said...

Wow wow wow. That is great that you got to see the Leonid fireball after the disappointment of your photographic exploits! Amazing, on your cell phone!

Last night Don and I were chatting along in the hot tub, and as usual Don was leaning back looking up, and suddenly he cried, "Whoa, look look look!" And I could already see in my peripheral (up) vision a flourescent light vibrating. We saw the most amazing meteoroid (or meteor?) ever! It lasted a long time, was "close" and brilliant and fantastic. In our 50+ years we've never seen anything like it. And of course we said, "We gotta tell Bob!"

Anna said...

Bob are you saying I should be seeing fire balls too, but we have lot of lights from the subdivision, probably I could if I wondered at night, lol.
Yeah I remember, and you took over, hey non-shared knowledge is no knowledge. I don't know if I knew what I was doing anyway, but I have to thank you for the motivation, because probably would never done it alone - in life it is all about teamwork...thanks, Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Tyler, always the next shower, we shall see, hopefully be better.

Bob Johnson said...

RIGHT back at you Majase, what a cool blog you have, I thought I was going to play a video game at first, cool pics.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Stephen, the hard part is getting up and going, once you're out the fresh air wakes you up and the sight of Orion is always awe inspiring.

Bob Johnson said...

Woo hoo Ruth, aren't meteors great? We had a huge one, one I just missed by minutes, explain in my next post. This huge meteor might have been the one a couple nights ago seen across Canada, they figure it might have actually landed to become a meteorite on the Sask Manitoba border somewhere.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for your teamwork Anna, that's what it is all about, with meteors it's all about at the right place at the right time, a lot of hours or just seconds, like my fireballs, so who knows what this next shower will bring.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, you had quite a photo session!!! I have never gone through two camera batteries at once!!!

What great images!!! That fireball is AWESOME. I can't stop doing !!!! this post. You sure get us excited. :D

Cheers! JJ

jodapoet said...

Wow, absolutely gorgeous!

Ruth said...

Wow, cool!

Don was convinced the one we saw was the lost toolkit. :)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, Ist time for me going through 2 batteries too, catching the fireball was exciting, ever try to figure out how to use something , like my camera for the first time when you are excited,lol, pretty hard.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Jodapoet!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, hey Ruth you can actually see the toolkit just behind the Space Station but you need a telescope, or long exposure photography.

Lee said...

Interesting images and rich content. I'm glad I found your site.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Lee, I'm glad you found my blog too.

Max said...

Hey Bob,

The moon ruined your fun his time, eh? I can only imagine how cold it must have been...I don't want to make you jealous by telling you about our weather on November would cry LOL ;)!

Anyway, your cell-phone picked an amazing image!! Look at that fireball trail...when I glanced at it, at first, I thought it was a bird (I even thought to myself "Lord of the Astropics is taking bird pictures!" LOL)...but as I read the text I realised I was mistaken...still it is gorgeous!

Bob, the final picture (before the animated image): is the moon setting or rising? This is one superb image!!

Thanks, for this gift :D!

I wish you a delightful week!


Max said...

Ooops, I forgot to subscribe to follow-up comments...

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks for not telling me you temp max,lol, probably would cry. Thanks max, the image is the Moon, Saturn, Mars and Regulus all setting, it was cool to watch them all set in a perfect line, very cool.

Max said...


LOL you are, I would never make you cry, ever :)!

Wow..that must have been cool indeed...a perfect alignment!

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob….

Wow it almost looks like day time….

LOL Cell phone to the rescue…it continues to amaze me how good some of the images are from cell phones!

Excellent I will keep an eye out for the conjunction!

Wow cool celestial party and you with a seat at the table!

Bob another neat gif….your posts are always excellent!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol livingsword, yep, thanks to the good old cell phone got the pic, just came in from snapping some images of part one of the conjunction, very cool.

Waterrose said...

Thanks for the information. I've seen the two planets for the last week and wondered what was up. Very cool and I'll make sure I look up in the sky tomorrow night!

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