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Draconid Meteor Shower Event

Thu 16th October 2014

Ingram  - 7th October 2014

Our second attempt to observe a meteor shower in the Ingram or Breamish Valley was much more successful than the first when an 8/8ths cloud deck obscured the whole sky.  Although the Draconid Meteor Shower is never as brilliant and distinct, nor the meteors so numerous as the Perseid’s in early August, some of our number did see a handful from their “observing positions” lying down in the bracken out of the wind on the upper slopes of Turf Knowe.  The brisk wind certainly wasn’t conducive to standing around and the rising, almost full moon, did tend to wash-out the sky contrast so that we definitely missed some of the fainter streaks.

The big advantage of the Draconid event is that usually it is necessary to wait until the early hours of the morning to see the best displays but this time the radiant, the area from which the meteors originate, was high in the sky, almost overhead from early in the evening.  Before we left the warmth of Ingram Village Hall, with a hot drink inside of us, we had a short introduction to the what, when, where, why and how of meteor watching using computer generated images.  Then it was time to leave the warmth of the blacked-out and dimmed hall for the walk to the observation site.  By now it was fully dark and everyone walked up towards the viewpoint in the increasing moonlight trying to ignore it and continue to allow our eyes to become even more dark adapted.  The moon shadows were very marked due to both the low angle of the rising moon and the fact that it was almost full.  We had a more or less clear sky with a very thin overcast of high cirrus in places that slowly increased over the observing period but the main circumpolar constellations were easy to see.  The head of Draco the Dragon, the radiant from which the meteor shower appeared was less distinct but easy to find using The Plough, the Pole Star, Cassiopeia, Hercules and the bright star Vega.  Whilst in the vicinity some of us took the opportunity to see the adjacent tri-radial cairn and the excavated burial cairn containing the two open cists with their capstones, it helped to keep us warm too.  

Our return downhill and back along to the Village Hall and cars was assisted by the strong light of the moon, we appreciated just how much when walking through the avenue of trees just before the fork in the road towards Ingram Bridge car park, we could easily have been in a tunnel.  No moonlight penetrated the trees but the sound of our boots on the road and the feel of the tarmac underfoot compensated for the loss of sight.  We were fortunate in having a lovely group of like-minded individuals at the event, some old friends and “frequent fliers” and it was especially good to see Paul and his wife reappear after an absence of a mere four years – I hope it wasn’t something we’d said?  

Thank you for attending and we hope that everyone both enjoyed the experience and learnt a little about aspects of the night sky.  Please keep your eyes open on the Shepherds Walks website for our January 2015 walk for what will hopefully be a novel kind of walking in the dark, this time in daytime and on the level which is also easy to get to regardless of the weather – intriguing or what!

Richard & Ian        

         

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