On Monday December 2, I setup at a dark sky site west of Ottawa to look for a possible early evening Phoenicids encounter with the dust trail released in 1898 by comet D/1819 W1 (Blanpain).  The projected radiant for this activity would be located at 00:26 (007) -28 which lies in northern Sculptor, but little was known on what might actually be seen.  This area of the sky is best placed as soon as evening twilight ends.  This part of the sky is very low as seen from this latitude, but any activity would be distinct since these meteors move very slowly at only 12 km/sec.  Moreover, I succeeded in seeing very weak activity on November 23 (near the time of the 1877 trail encounter), and video camera networks around the world detected more significant Phoenicids activity between November 12 to 14.  This appeared to be one of those unique years when a meteor shower could possibly produce separate activity over the span of a few weeks.  There was also special interest in the Phoenicids this year, as these trail encounters could give some more insight on the parent comet’s dust production in it’s “dying” stages.  Even a negative (no meteor) result can be useful.

On this occasion, I observed for four hours, starting soon after the end of twilight.  The sky was clear and of decent transparency (LM=6.2) with a near First Quarter Moon in the western sky.  To minimize the glare, I positioned myself close to a treeline, keeping the moon out of sight and I faced the south-east, and then later on, the south.  In all, I saw 21 meteors (3 November Orionids, 2 Geminids, one Northern Taurid and 15 sporadics).  I saw absolutely no signs of the Phoenicids.

Dan Vasiu joined me to observe as well, and I enjoyed having his company.  He saw only one meteor that could possibly fit the parameters of being a Pheonicid.

The best meteor was seen as I was setting up, before my “official start”.  It was a 40 degrees long sporadic that reached mag 0 and fragmented.  All in all, even with the absence of Phoenicids, it was quite a nice night.

Observation December 2/3 2019, 22:50-03:15 UT (17:50-22:15 EST)
Location: Renfrew, Ontario, Canada
(45°25’48″N 76°38’24″W)

Observed showers:
December Phoenicids (PHO) – 00:26 (007) -28
Northern Taurids (NTA) – 05:15 (079) +28
Southern Taurids (STA) – 05:22 (081) +21
Monocerotids (MON) – 06:06 (091) +09
November Orionids (NOO) – 06:14 (093) +16
Geminids (GEM) – 06:43 (101) +35
sigma Hydrids (HYD) – 08:00 (120) +04

22:50-23:50 UT (17:50-18:50 EST); clear; 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.25; facing SE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
GEM: one: +1
Sporadics: one: +3
Total meteors: Two

23:50-01:05 UT (18:50-20:05 EST); clear; 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.25; facing SE55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
GEM: one: +3
NOO: one: +3
Sporadics: four: +1; +2; +3; +5
Total meteors: Six

01:05-02:05 UT (20:05-21:05 EST); clear; 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.25; facing S55 deg; teff 1.00 hr
Sporadics: six: +2; +3(2); +4(2); +5
Total meteors: Six

02:05-03:15 UT (21:05-22:15 EST); clear; 3/5 trans; F 1.00; LM 6.38; facing S55 deg; teff 1.16 hr
NOO: two: +4; +5
NTA: one: +2
Sporadics: four: +3(2); +4; +5
Total meteors: Seven

Clear skies,

Pierre Martin
Ottawa, Ontario