The Great Manitou Star Party – Manitoulin Island Dark Sky Association

Hi everyone,

I attended the Great Manitou Star Party between July 27 – August 1, 2000.

The July 29/30 night was fabulous. What a gorgeous night! Despite high humidity, some slight haze and occasional cirrus clouds, I managed to get almost 5 hours of observing. Limiting magnitude reached 6.9 despite the humid conditions – absolutely no light pollution. The Milky Way was most impressive and M33 was glimpsed at naked eye. The entire night was warm too.

This is my most productive night of the year, with 118 meteors observed in 4.76 hours teff. Those were impressive numbers of meteors, especially since the activity that night was made up from minor showers. It sure did not disappoint, since nearly every active radiants on my list produced some activity. The very dark skies allowed many more faint meteors to be easily detected.

The biggest surprise was to see so many S. Delta Aquarids (SDA). Rates for SDA’s were low at first, but the 3rd hour surged quickly with 14 members! There were two instances of a pair of SDA’s flying only seconds apart. The following hour was still respectable with 8 SDA’s. The total of 30 SDA’s that appeared is the most I have ever seen in a single night. This is quite unusual considering that at 45 degrees latitude, this radiant in Aquarius never gets a chance to rise very high.

Other interesting activity included early Perseids (even though this shower was still almost two weeks away from it’s peak) . They were active all night, but the 3rd hour was best with 7 members. Some nice bright swift-moving streaks!

Decent activity also appeared from the N. Delta Aquarids and Capricornids. The final hour produced a pair of Pisces Austrinids (rare meteors since the radiant is always very low from 45deg). Nothing could be confirmed from the SIA’s but a few possible alignments with other radiants. Only one Alpha Cygnid seen.

Sporadics rates were quite consistent at 10-15 per hour until the end.

All this activity combined together also seemed to catch the eye of many star party attendees. They would walk up to me and ask “what are all those meteors we keep seeing all over the sky?”.

The highlight was a short magnitude -5 Perseid at 1:05am that exploded with a flash illuminating the sky and trees. Most people saw only the flash. Another highlight was a yellow magnitude -3 South Delta Aquarid that flared softly on its path.

A very memorable night! I definitely recommend the Great Manitou Star Party to anyone looking for incredibly dark skies!! I did take some breaks from meteor observing to get a peak through some of the scopes that were dotted all over the field. I enjoyed some of the best views ever of some deep sky targets such as the Veil Nebula, M13 in Hercules and many others. The fun and excitement surrounding all the observers and telescopes is truly addictive.

Pierre Martin Ottawa, Ontario


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