Grand Bend Perseid Watch, August 12, 2012

I could see lots of thick dark cloud while driving up to Grand Bend, and the prospects of enjoying any observing were not looking good. When I arrived at the Community Centre I saw Lucas Piskunowicz with his wife and Everett Clark walking through an empty parking lot. Pretty soon some community members arrived and we began setting up.

 Maria Lavdas arrived, as did Mike Jager. Everett helped with extension cords and coffee makers while I replaced some of the outside lights with red compact fluorescent lamps so we would have some safe lighting on stairways and the patio where the coffee and refreshments would be served. A tray of brownies soon started disappearing as more people arrived and many conversations took place. I set up the club data projector inside and by 9:00pm I began my new talk "Meteoroids, Meteors, Bolides & Meteorites" to a standing room only crowd. As I was packing up the presentation equipment Everett came in to say the skies were clearing and stars could be seen.

Soon everyone were lying on blankets on the grassy slopes looking north west and I used my laser pointer to give a short constellation tour. The first Perseid seen was fast and bright, and it was followed by many more. We saw several satellites flare, flash and slowly glide between the stars. Eventually we saw the ISS low to the north, just skimming the tree tops. While cloud passed by we had another brownie, made tea or hot chocolate, and talked. Lucas set up his telescope and showed M31, M13 and probably several other things. We saw several bright meteors that cut east to west across the Milky Way, definitely not Perseids. About 2:00am most people had wandered off and as cloud was once again claiming the sky we started putting everything back to normal at the community centre. I walked down the beach access path and saw a few more meteors in the small patch of clear sky to the north east. The waves were still loud from the day's wind, drowning out three guys with guitars playing Beetle tunes. As the thin crescent moon rose in cloud I left the beach. The guys were torturing "Happiness is a Warm Gun" from the White Album, which I used as the soundtrack for my student film 44 years ago. It seemed appropriate.

Dave McCarter