University Lowbrow Astronomers


by Bernard Friberg
Printed in Reflections:  August, 2000.


That’s one word to describe it, but it still does not do it justice.  I am referring to the event last night (August 11/12, 2000) at Peach Mountain, the Perseids.  Not a storm, but a persistent producer of meteors.  There were bright ones, there were dim ones, and there were very bright ones leaving a lengthy trail and lighting up the area.

This was just an introduction to the main event.  When darkness descended upon us we noticed a definite glow to the North, a curtain of light.  It would slowly expand and contract, it would get brighter and then dimmer, but not entirely going away.  This was during a moonlit sky.  When the Moon approached the trees and went behind the trees, the main event started, an Aurora display that probably surpassed all other displays for this area (this was by far the best display as witnessed by those attending this event).  An area to the North would get brighter, then started to slowly expand upwards.  Then it would slowly fade and other areas would get brighter and expand horizontally and vertically.  Then horizontal waves would start at the horizon and then move up past the zenith to 45 degrees above the South, taking 3 seconds.

As the minutes rolled by, these waves taking 3 seconds became faster and faster and then would take only a 1/4 second to traverse the 135 degrees of the sky.  This wave phase lasted maybe 20 minutes.  Towards the end of the wave phase the sky started to pulsate, areas would light up and then dim, at the rate of 3/4 sec in different areas of the sky.  This rate of pulsing eventually increased to maybe 5 or 6 times a second and covering almost the entire sky.  A small area, maybe 20 degrees above the Southern point was not included during most of this display.  At the height of the display even some of this area was included.  Almost the entire sky was pulsating, waves were emanating from all directions, searchlight beams of light emanated from the horizon, it was so bright that one could read a newspaper.  Vivid green, white and some red predominated.  Periodically this display was punctuated by a meteor, it was incredible!!  If only one person saw this, no one would believe, but there were witnesses.

See also

The Perseid Meteor Shower and Aurora of August 11/12, 2000 by Dave Snyder.


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