Peter Hill

February Meteors



Not noted for its meteor showers, February displays some minor meteor showers not noted for high visibility but detectable using the reflected radar signal from Graves.

The three element Yagi / fundongle pro+set up detected 1744 meteors in February. The hourly average was 2.6 / hr with an hourly maximum of 10 between 00:02 – 00:03 on 5th Feb. The daily average was 62.3 with a daily maximum of 79 on 4th Feb..

The hourly and daily plots are shown below as well as a comparison of daily counts for the last 3 years.

March is also a “quiet” month with no notable showers.


Pete Hill










With clear skies over the next two evenings Mercury makes a good target as it approaches greatest eastern elongation (on27th) visible from approx. 18:15 till 19:00, looking to the west south west and with a good clear horizon, try spotting it with binoculars first.

All images taken with Canon 450D on tripod, cable shutter release , manual focus, all 1600 !SO  with Sigma 150 – 500 mm zoom lens.





F10, 1.6″ 150mm, atmospheric lighting courtesy of street lights.



F8,0.8″, 150mm



F8, 1/8″, 200mm



Up close and personal at F8, 0.8″, 500mm


Unfortunately didn’t have a photogenic church steeple to hand!











January Meteors.

Based upon the reflections of the Graves radar signal 2546 meteors were detected in January.

The daily average was 82 with a maximum of 289 on 4thJan.

The hourly average was 3.4 with  an hourly max of 51 between 3-4 am on 4th Jan, there was a secondary peak of max 21 between 10-11 am on the same day.

The peak activity on the 4th represented the Quadrantid meteor shower peaking at 3-4am , Sky at Night (jan) magazine suggested that the secondary maximum would be due to the debris from the 1974 visitation of comet 46P which was visible during January.

There are several minor showers also present during January.

Below are the daily and hourly plots for January, the two distinct peaks are visible on the hourly count, the red bar indicates where Graves was off line between 17:00 on the 13th to 07:00 on the 14th.

The last plot is a comparison with the 2018 data.

Telescope sale

Hi folks,

am having difficulty handling these scopes now so am downsizing and selling these to a good home!!

9.25″ Celestron SCT with StarbrightXLT coatings. Including:

Antares F6.3 focal reducer

Antares 2” tube with twist grip

Celestron 1.25” star diagonal

Celestron 1.25” Visual back.

Celestron 9×50 R.A.C.I. illuminated finderscope.

Feather Touch focusser

JMI electrical focuser attachment for feather touch.

Telrad base

Vixen mounting bar, (has been on Skywatcher HEQ5Pro.)

Extra mounting bar on top.

AstroZap flexiheat Dew shield and controller.

Bahtninov mask.

£700 for tube and accessories.

Skywatcher 200PDS Newtonian Reflector. Includes:


Telrad base

Dew Shield

Skywatcher motor drive, can be easily connected / disconnected

from Dual speed Crayford with turn of allen key.

GSL 35mm extension tube.

Bahtinov mask.

£200 for tube and accessories.

If interested contact me on 01283716285 or see meat RAG on Friday.

Pete Hill



December Meteors.

Did anyone catch a Geminid or even an Ursid?? Based on reflected signals from the Graves radar installation 3641 meteors were detected over the month of December. The average daily rate was 5 meteors / hr. with a maximum hourly count of 55 between 4-5 am on Dec 14th. The average daily rate was 118 with a maximum of 468 on the 14th Dec. Both maximums coincided with the peak of the Geminid Shower, the data showed that the best time to have viewed the shower was from 2- 6 am before, after and during the peak of activity.  There is a small peak around the 22/23 rd Dec from the Ursid shower. The pick up at the end of the month points towards the peak of the Quadrantids  around the 4th Jan.

The daily and hourly counts for the month are below, finally there is a comparison of the December activity  over the last 3 years. Although the levels are different the trends are fairly similar, the peaks of the Geminids and Ursids clearly visible in each data set.

The conditional actions settings for the spectrum lab software are the same for 2018 & 2017 but different to those in 2016. The difference in the 2017 and 2018 counts could reflect the different densities of the dust trails caused by the variations in the parent comets emissions.

November Meteors 2018.

Not much chance of visual meteor spotting over the month , but the radar setup based on the Graves 140.05 MHz signal continued to record data.

The maximum number of meteors detected over November was 2701. The average daily rate was 90 with a maximum of 135 on 20th of Nov.

The average hourly rate was 4 (3.8) with a maximum of 21 between 9am and 10am on the 20th.

The major shower in November is the Leonids, active between the 6 -30 with a peak on 17/18,  Also Taurids active between Oct 12 – Dec 2 with the Southern branch peaking on Nov 5 and the Northern Branch on the 12th.

There are also a number of other minor showers active over the month:

Andromedids  peaking on 27th

Theta Aurigids, 15th -21st peak 19th

Omicron Erianids  14th – 29th peak 22nd

Alpha Monocerotoids 13th Nov – 2nd Dec peak 21st

Chi Taurids peak Nov 2nd.

It is difficult to isolate any one shower in the data, but the hourly data shows a definite peak around the 20th, probably the sum of those showers active during that date.

The final chart shows a comparison of data from 2016 -2018, although levels vary , certainly the 2017 and 2018 data seem to mirror each other.

Next month sees the Geminid shower 6th – 19th peaking 13th /14th, with the moon set at around 22:00 there should be some good viewing around midnight. The Ursid shower peaks on the 22nd but a full moon will make observations difficult. Finally if Comet 46P/Wirtanen peaks as predicted it should be easily visible between the Pleiades and Aldebaran on 16th Dec.

October Meteors

The radar meteor detection based on the Graves frequency detected 2592 meteors during October.

The maximum daily count was 109 on the 14th Oct with an hourly maximum on the same day between 11;00 – 12:00.

This was probably due to the Delta Aurigids which have a peak activity on the 11th but this tends to spread over several days.

The average daily count was 84 and the average hourly count 4.

The Draconids peak on the 8/9 th October and a high level of activity was recorded in the late hours of the 8th , early horus of the 9th.  This meteor stream is linked with Comet 21/Giabcobini-Zimmer and it was thought its latest visitation would cause such an out burst, in fact it was due to an earlier trail of debris from the comet and could have been more spectacular.

The increase in activity can be seen on the data below , see the hourly chart for Oct 8-9.

The epsilon Geminids peaked on the 18th and the Orionids (linked with Halleys comet) peaked on the 22nd.

The hourly and daily plots are shown below as well as a comparison of the daily plots for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Next month sees the Taurids around the 12th , Taurid fireballs have already been reported ( see and the Leonids  after midnight on the 17/18, the moon shouldn’t be much of a problem.

September Meteors

September is not noted for any major meteor shower but there is activity from 9 radiants during the month, two of them mainly daytime activity.

There was a total of 1681meteors detected during September, the average hourly rate was 2.3 with a maximum of 13 between 9 and 10 am on the 13th. The average daily rate was 56 with a maximum of 86 on the 20th, the data is shown below.

The peak between 6-9 was probably due to the September Perseids, the peak on the 12th is probably the  Eta Draconids and the peak on the 29th the Delta Sextanids, particularly as most of the activity recorded was during daylight hours and this is a daytime shower.

The third chart is a comparison with the 2017 data, recorded using the same settings, although the 20127 counts  tends to be higher the pattern of variation over the month is remarkably similar, the difference in count possible being due to there being in more debris in the comet paths crossed indicative of the random nature by whbich comets lose material./ dust in their orbits

October sees the peak of the Orionid shower on the 21st, coinciding with a bright waxing, nearly full moon, the Southern Taurid shower peaks under more favourable conditions( 1 day old waxing crescent) on the 10th.