Perseids Meteor Shower
The annual Perseids Meteor shower peaked at 17.00 UT this evening and so I went in the hope of seeing a good showing from a shower caused by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, whose vast trail of debris the Earth is currently passing through.
After a decidely cloudy day, the evening cleared up and we had a couple of hours of sunshine. I was therefore hopeful of a clear night and went outside at around midnight. The sky was indeed very clear with only about 20% cloud cover. I decided to also set up the telescope so that I could fill in the hours before dawn when the shower would get spectacular as the Earth turned directly into the stream.
Everything seemed to be going well to begin with. As I was setting up the 'scope I observed a couple of meteors, one of which was a Perseid and another which originated from the Cygnus area. Both were moving very fast and left only a trail that remained visible for only a second or so. Between midnight and 00:30 I observed a further three meteors all of which were Perseids, however by this time broken clouds were drifting in from the west. The cloud gradually built until only a few stars could be seen, twinkling faintly in the dark gaps. At 01:00 I decided to go inside and check on some satellite cloud pictures. The news was not good, with heavier cloud due to roll in from the west within the hour so I packed up and went to bed.
It was a very disappointing night as it appeared that the shower was really starting to get going just as the clouds rolled in to spoil the show.
The only target I managed to check out whilst the clouds remained away was M31, the Andromeda Galaxy which is now sitting high in the eastern sky at midnight. The cloud was already building so that only the bright central core was visible with very little extended presence.