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The advantages of insomnia July 30, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Urban Observing.
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Last night I woke up little before 4 AM. I lay in bed for a while, trying to get back to sleep, but I couldn’t. Then it occurred to me that the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is at its peak, and the weather forecast looked good for overnight, and realized I wasn’t going to get to sleep until I went outside and had a look.
Between the street lights and the just-past-quarter Moon, I wasn’t too sure I’d see anything. Add the heavily wooded lot to the south, and I started to wonder if I should have stayed in bed. But I pulled a chair out to the lawn and sat back.
I had a good view of Cassiopeia and Perseus. The Pleiades looked lively up next to the moon. Maybe 2 minutes after I sat down, I saw a meteor! However, it didn’t come up from the south, it came from Perseus. It was an early Perseid.
I watched a few more minutes, and noticed a satellite going through Cassiopeia. It wasn’t a very bright satellite, but as it headed south, it suddenly it got much brighter. In fact, it got brighter than anything except moon in the sky at that time. It was an iridium flare!
Okay, not what I came out for, but, one meteor one iridium flair, not bad for a distraction from insomnia.
As I sat watching the Pleiades, I saw another satellite. Bright and slow moving, I knew what this was: the ISS. It always amazes me to think that there are people living on that little point of light crossing my sky.
A few minutes latter, and there was another meteor out of Perseus again. Then a bird started singing, so I thought it was probably time to head back in. Maybe I could catch another hour or two of sleep. Not bad for 20 minutes under light polluted skies.
And of course, I now have high hopes for the Perseids!

English: Iridium Flare and Comet 17P/Holmes sl...

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