Re: Question re: number of Perseids

R.B. Minton (
Thu, 29 Aug 1996 07:59:28 -0600

In message <> Ed Cannon writes:
> Hi,
> I just read your message on SeeSat-L (well, I use SeeSat-D):
> >Incidentally, I only captured 27 meteors in 5 hours of videotaping - down by 
> a 
> >factor of 5 (with the same equipment) from a few years ago.  I also 
> videotaped
> >5 satellites, 1 bird, and 0 UFO's.
> >
> >R. B. Minton
> >Colorado State Director of Investigations
> >Mutual UFO Network (MUFON)
> I don't know anything about the sensitivity of the videocamera (as I don't 
> own one), so your message made me curious.  Three years ago [?] I counted 
> 80 meteors in four hours.  This year, on Aug. 13, 5:30-7:30 UT, I observed 
> at least 46, 8 or 9 of which were not Perseids.  As this was at least 24 
> hours after what I understood to be the maximum, it surprised a little to 
> see so many.  I was about 30-35 miles northwest of Austin, TX, probably at 
> about 800 feet altitude.  I'm not good at this, but as I could see all of 
> the 7 or 8 "dipper" stars of Ursa Minor, I think the limiting magnitude was 
> about 5.0.  (The dimmest one was right at the borderline of visibility.)  
> So, can we see more than the camera does?  Or did I just happen to look at 
> a good time?
> By the way, I've never seen a UFO but think I would be thrilled if I did!  
> (Maybe I enjoyed "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" too much?  For my 
> 18 months or so on the Net I spent a LOT of time with alt.alien.visitors.)
> Thank you in advance for any reply.
> Regards,
> Ed Cannon
Hello Ed:  The URL for Sky & Telescope reported a fair number over Hawaii, so
I strongly suspect there were dense portions in the meteor stream.  We will 
have a much better idea after all the reports are in & analysed.
My video setup uses an F/2 lens of 5" focal length, so the field of view is 
only 8 degrees, but it records down to magnitude 9.  So it goes to 4 magnitudes
fainter than you could see; but it has only a very small fraction of the total
field of view visible to the naked eye.  The visual observer would thus see 
more bright ones and the video would pick up the fainter one - so we are really
measuring 2 different components of the meteor stream.
I too have never seen a UFO.  I once met J. Allen Hynek as a guest speaker at
our astronomy club.  I told him of the thousands of hours I had spent observing
and had always recognized the strange things I had seen (a long list).  His
simple response was "well then, you have never seen a UFO".
My regards to you too.

R. B. Minton
-104.7932, +40.0876, 4525 ft.