Geminids 1996: First impressions of team Delphinus
DMS-members observing the Geminids 1996


Holy cow what a great show the Geminids performed last night! Meteors: multitudes! Fireballs: how many would you like...?!???? We really have gone out of our minds in Biddinghuizen last night!

After a full week of gray skies and very unfavourable predictions, the Gods up there decided that it would clear just in time for us to see the show. We have had a clear sky with Lm ~6.7 from about 21h am local time (20 UT) to dawn. When we arrived in Biddinghuizen around 19h UT, the edge of the front was right in the zenith, and a clear dark sky made it's entrance. This remained so untill about the last 1.5 hours of the night, when we had some patches of cirrus coming in (but we could still observe very well).

We just arrived home so I can't give exact numbers yet. But each of us must have hundreds of meteors individually (we estimate at least 600-700. At least, I say...). The show was especially spectacular around and short after local midnight, with the radiant high in the sky and only some hours after theoretical maximum (18:30 UT). Around local midnight (say 23-1 UT) we had several Geminids PER MINUTE appearing (individually!) and during some moments we experienced 'traffic jam' in recording the data.

Many many bright ones, especially in the second half of the night. The brightest one we saw was -8. I also saw a -5 and we all saw several -3, and many many in the 0 to -2 range. We expect at least some 150 phtographic hits, if not more.

Anyhow, we ran both visual and photo/video multistation campaign last night. At Biddinghuizen, Koen Miskotte, Jos Nijland, Casper ter Kuile and me were present (Robert unfortunately had to stay home due to the flu). During some time, we were also accompanied by Mrs. Appel, the wife of the farmer on which property we observe, some of her relatives and neighbours (including their little sons). Mrs. Appel and a relative also observed the -8 and the very high hourly rates around local midnight and were very enthousiastic, notwithstanding the cold. We had friendly frosty temperatures around -5 C last night. All equipment including ourselves covered with frost.

Yeah, this was great.... Geminids are really a beautifull stream. They give a special feeling, as does the wintertime conditions. It's all so beautifull.... Bright meteors with CLASS and DISTINCTION, 'aristocrats' among meteors so to speak. And then, after daybreak, that special morning winter sun light effect on the white frosty meadows: you get the feeling it is christmas time arriving... Being the last well observable major stream this year, the Geminids allowed us a very satisfying end to the otherwise (as far as weather was concerned) rather unfortunate 1996. What a spectacular little Gems among meteors are these...!

More news and data will follow after we have taken some sleep and have had the time to evaluate our tape recordings. I used 1.5 tapes this night, thought I all kept it very short!

Best wishes and stay tuned for more,

Marco Langbroek
DMS team Delphinus, the Netherlands

Hello everybody!

Below my observational data of the night 13/14 December 1996 (20-6 UT). This night has broken all records!! In 9.00h effective, I observed:

- - - - - - - - - - 1257 METEORS !!!!! - - - - - - - - - -

This is a personal record for me as far as numbers on one single night are concerned, and it probably is an all-time record within the Dutch Meteor Society as well as far as we know! Actually, 1996 had not been such a good year for me so far and in this single night I.....more than DOUBLED my 1996 year total of meteors! Holy smoke what a night! Keep those Perseids and other dubious streams: I love the Geminids...! What surprises me is the strenght of this particular display: this was a far better show than in 1991 and 1994, though those years were partly hampered by moonlight I admitt. It is not so much in observing conditions I think: in 1991 I observed under dark skies as well. But this year we were closer to maximum, and that surely seems to be relevant with this stream.

Below a table with rate data. Magnitude data will follow later, it's a hell of a job to make a distribution of 1257 meteors...

Sky conditions were quite good, though we have experienced better nights at Biddinghuizen in the past. Dark sky with nice milky way visible onto Sirius, Lm around ~6.6 with occasionally a surge to +6.8 or a low to +6.4. (early part of the night).

Observer: Marco Langbroek   (Lanma)
Location: Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands, 52d 29' N, 5d 41' E

Night: December 13-14 1996

 UT             Teff    Lm      Gem    Spo     Mon     sHy     xOri
20:00 - 21:00   0.88    6.7     48      20      1       0       2
21:00 - 21:57   0.95    6.6     100     22      4       0       1
22:04 - 22:57   0.85    6.5     103     27      6       0       1
23:00 - 23:56   0.88    6.4     121     25      7       5       0
00:00 - 00:59   0.95    6.6     141     24      4       2       0
00:59 - 02:02   0.93    6.6     112     30      7       1       0
02:02 - 03:04   0.95    6.6     106     30      2       6       1
03:04 - 04:03   0.90    6.6     71      32      3       3       0
04:03 - 05:01   0.83    6.7     84      25      3       3       0
05:01 - 05:40   0.55    6.6     35      10      2       4       0
05:40 - 06:00   0.32    6.3     13      8       1       1       0
 TOTAL:         9.00h   ~6.6    934     253     40      25      5

Last night (14-15) was clouded. That was actually not a problem to us because we were very tired after this formidable night.

Best wishes to all of you!

-Marco Langbroek
DMS team Delphinus, Biddinghuizen meteor observatory, The Netherlands

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