Perseids 1996: Crash to Victory???
"Crash"-team Delphinus/WVS, Berlin
We have become so desperate due to the weather that we are starting up the ULTIMATE 'crash' at this moment. NOAA weather photo's suggest a Titanic clashing in the east. The monstruous low pressure system and it's fronts encountered an even more monstruous high pressure area above scandinavia and russia. The front is heavy but doesn't move an inch, at least in easterly direction it seems when comparing two satellite images taken 24 hrs ago and 2 hrs ago.
SO WE ARE GOING FOR IT!!!!
At this moment we are packing our cars. Northeast Germany or Poland are the target. Just a 600 mile drive.... We'll take a stop at Gronau to inform with Jacob Kuiper at the Dutch meteorological Institute abaout latest developments. Then we'll decide to continue untill we die, or to quit if prospects for front movement have become worse. Staying in The Netherlands anyway will not get us to see any Perseids these days, that's for sure.
All systems go. We have GPS, fast cars, lots of camera-equipment, image-intensified video, power supplies and a lot of very fanatic observers, including me, Casper, Robert Haas, Koen Miskotte, Carl Johannink, and surprise surprise, even Betlem and his people are considering to go for it! (which in their case means that they must be very desperate).
Stay tuned! Hear our stories when we have come back. The ultimate succes, or an exhausting but fatal effort into a fizzling campaign. Who knows? No return for us:
ALEA JACTA EST!
This will be even more important than the fate of the Roman Empire!! History will be made!
- Marco Langbroek (DMS)
Defeated by the Great Monster Depression
Just returned from our long and memorable journey. A little bit two-faced. Part of our group (Betlem c.s.) reportedly saw the outburst, though we don't have exact details yet. We (=the team including Casper, Carl, Koen, Robert and me) didn't. I guess we went 'a bridge too far' or maybe 'not far enough'!
In short: the front speedied up dramatically. We really couldn't beat it, though Robert drives very (very...!) fast. Short before reaching Berlin, Hans Betlem et al. decided to cancel the campaign and return. In the vicinity of Hannover, they met large clearings. Reportedly, they have seen and photographed the outburst but we don't have exact details available yet (only a short message on our answering machine).
And then, what about us? Listen to a frightening story. This was really incredible. Never had such a dose of bad luck before, though I must stress we have had a great time! In short, what should YOU think when you:
- suffer a boiling car engine after 75 km's of travel because your car rentel company didn't check the level of the cooling fluid before giving you the car for rent....
- see your GPS receiver ($270) sliding of the dashboard and dash away through the open side-window of your car when you are taking a strong twist in the road at considerable speed.... (and amazingly, it survived! Those things are really very robust...!)
- Get to within 124 km of the Polish-German border near local midnight after a 600 km (~400 mile) frantic chase to beat the front rolling over Europe like a steamroller... and then having to surrender because the drivers have reached their limits of capability and you know it will take you at least 300 km's extra to have any real chance of bright skies...
- Meet a giant traffic jam due to an accident on your way back which get's you stuck on a highway near Magdeburg for 3 (three) hours...
- See a truck crashing into the side of the highway (moving in a direction perpendicular as it should be moving) only 50 yards behind you (and only seconds after another truck almost crushed you between himself and the crash-barrier...)....
- !!! coming home, read that there HAS been an outburst over Europe, that was seen by those in your group that surrendered first (that means: the WEAK ones...!) and not by YOU...! After all these desperate efforts...!!!
...I guess, we have had our dose of bad luck... But Boy, what a great time we have had! After we quit (at location 52 degrees 41' 03" N, 13 degrees 35' 07" E, northeast of Berlin. We left from De Bilt which is in the center of the Netherlands at 52 degees 06' 41" N, 5 degrees 11' 15" E. Look this distance up on a map!) we drove back to Berlin and (after checking in in a nice Hotel) ended this hectic effort with a cool drink and some food at the famous Kurfurstendamm in Berlin, just next to the famous bombed ruin of the Gedachtnisskirche. We have done all we could, but we were beaten by the unexpected rapid 'blitzkrieg' of this monster front, and (may I ad) by some slight incompetence of our meteorologists who didn't tell us that it might be better to stay around Hannover or even the Netherlands... Even some parts of the Netherlands seem to have had some (considerable) spells of clear skies...
Next time, our scenario will be to move in advance, one or two days earlier, to an area with good prospects, and if neccesary 'crash' from there even further away. If we had gone for Poland one day earlier, we would have had a first class view because we would indeed have reached deep enough to the east. Also, we think we are not going to argue for long with our other people about maximum distances, scenario's etcetera (as we did now): we just go if we think it has a chance. Even if it means that we don't take our photo-equipment with us. This was another reason why we decided not to go into Poland: it would have meant that we would have to leave one person (and one driver!) with the equipment. We didn't want to take it into Poland ($20 000 of high-tech equipment!): Poland is not a member of the EU and we expected trouble with customs. You never know whether you can 'lose' your equipment or many hours due to arguments with customs-officers in that way...
Well, to finish it all: we had a great time, nice to see Berlin again, it was a great experience, but we were beaten to only a few hundred kilometers by fate, and we didn't see the event while it has been visible from Europe... What a mess!! Should we laugh or cry?!? You tell us! This was really one of the most strange experiences I ever had...
- Marco Langbroek
Dutch Meteor Society
PS: after all, I think our decision to get a hotel in Berlin and not to go back was a very wise one after 12 hours on the road, with many kilometers (and hours) to come the next day. But sadly, if we had taken the risk to go back at once, we might have seen the event, like the other group that gave up the chase earlier did... But I am lucky for them and all of you who also saw it (congratulations!). Murphy, thou art Devilish! This really was the limit for us. Next time, we do it differently. More efficiently. We learned a lot of this experience, and that of course is a good thing too...
|This page was last modified on August 15, 1996 by
Casper ter Kuile and Marco Langbroek