Abstract: A summary of the activity of the CAMS BeNeLux network during the month of December 2020 is presented. 8150 multiple station meteors were registered. The weather was very unfavorable; December 2020 was the worst month of December in the CAMS BeNeLux history. 24 nights allowed to collect some orbits with 8 nights with more than 100 orbits and 7 nights without any orbit. In total 2693 orbits were added to the CAMS BeNeLux database.


1  Introduction

December might be the most interesting month of the year meteor wise. Meteor rates remain at a high level with several very active minor showers during this month. The Geminids are one of the most active annual showers of the year and the Ursids sometimes contribute with unexpected enhanced activity. This rich activity comes with the long winter nights of over 14 hours dark sky in the BeNeLux area. Could we be lucky with the weather in 2020?

2  December 2020 statistics

CAMS BeNeLux collected 8150 multi-station meteors in December 2020 (against 12329 in December 2019 and 13220 in December 2018). Indeed, this number suggests the weather circumstances were not favorable at all this year. Most of the rich Geminid nights were missed and December 2020 was characterized by mainly cloudy nights. The final number of orbits reached a total of 2693 orbits, still an impressive number when taking the poor weather circumstances into account. This is the lowest number of orbits for the month of December since 2015, far below the totals of 4124 orbits of December 2019 and 4908 orbits of December 2018 when CAMS BeNeLux had its best December month ever.

This month counted only 8 nights with more than 100 orbits (13 in 2019) and 7 nights remained without any orbits (3 in 2019). Best night of December 2020 was 18–19 with 495 orbits. The nice score in orbits in December 2018 was thanks to a lucky coincidence that some of the very few clear nights happened during the best Geminid activity nights. In December 2019 the Geminids were missed but the weather was more favorable in general.

The statistics of December 2020 are compared in Figure 1 and Table 1 with the same month in previous years since the start of CAMS BeNeLux in 2012. In 9 years, 206 December nights allowed to obtain orbits with a grand total of 22320 orbits collected during December during all these years together.

While December 2019 had a maximum of 82 cameras operational on some nights, 72.8 on average, December 2020 had 86 cameras at best and 72.4 on average. Not everyone has the possibility to operate cameras every night, however experience learns it is highly recommended to try to keep as many cameras as possible operational all nights.


Figure 1 – Comparing December 2020 to previous months of December in the CAMS BeNeLux history. The blue bars represent the number of orbits, the red bars the maximum number of cameras running in a single night and the yellow bar the average number of cameras running per night.


Table 1 – December 2020 compared to previous months of December.

Year Nights Orbits Stations Max. Cams Min. Cams Avg. Cams
2012 12 117 6 7 2.4
2013 23 1053 10 25 15.7
2014 19 1540 14 37 25.8
2015 27 1589 15 49 8 33.8
2016 25 3492 21 58 25 48.3
2017 25 2804 22 86 49 68.9
2018 23 4908 21 78 52 69.8
2019 28 4124 21 82 64 72.8
2020 24 2693 24 86 56 72.4
Total 206 22320


Although the lower total number of orbits is mainly due to bad weather, there were many nights that camera operators in the northern part of the BeNeLux network didn’t start their cameras, assuming the sky would remain overcast, while the southern part of the network functioned 7/7 with AutoCams and registered meteors during unexpected clear periods. A substantial part of the orbits obtained by CAMS BeNeLux were obtained during often mainly cloudy nights with unforeseen clear periods. Best practice is to keep cameras operational 7/7 as nobody can foresee if a cloudy night will actually remain 100% overcast. For this purpose, the RMS cameras are ideal since these function totally automated. A new RMS camera started contributing to the CAMS BeNeLux network from 4–5 December 2020 installed at Dwingeloo, Netherlands, by Tammo Jan Dijkema.


3  Conclusion

December 2020 brought the lowest score in terms of orbits since 2015 when less cameras and stations participated in the network. It is difficult to compare with earlier December results as no AutoCams existed before 2015 and significant less cameras were available. December 2020 may have been the very worst December month in the CAMS BeNeLux history.



This report is based on the online data taken from the CAMS website. First of all, thanks to Martin Breukers for collecting all the data and running Coincidence to obtain the trajectories and orbits during this month. Many thanks to all participants in the CAMS BeNeLux network for their dedicated efforts. The CAMS BeNeLux team was operated by the following volunteers during the month of December 2020: Felix Bettonvil (Utrecht, Netherlands, CAMS 376 and 377), Jean-Marie Biets (Wilderen, Belgium, CAMS 379, 380, 381 and 382), Martin Breukers (Hengelo, Netherlands, CAMS 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326 and 327), Guiseppe Canonaco (Genk, RMS 3815), Bart Dessoy (Zoersel, Belgium, CAMS 397, 398, 804, 805), Tammo Jan Dijkema (Dwingeloo, Netherlands, RMS 3198), Jean-Paul Dumoulin, Dominique Guiot and Christian Walin (Grapfontaine, Belgium, CAMS 814 and 815, RMS 003814), Uwe Glässner (Langenfeld, Germany, RMS 3800), Luc Gobin (Mechelen, Belgium, CAMS 3890, 3891, 3892 and 3893), Tioga Gulon (Nancy, France, CAMS 3900 and 3901), Robert Haas (Alphen aan de Rijn, Netherlands, CAMS 3160, 3161, 3162, 3163, 3164, 3165, 3166 and 3167), Robert Haas (Texel, Netherlands, CAMS 810, 811, 812 and 813), Robert Haas / Edwin van Dijk (Burlage, Germany, CAMS 801, 802, 821 and 822), Kees Habraken (Kattendijke, Netherlands, RMS 000378), Klaas Jobse (Oostkapelle, Netherlands, CAMS 3030, 3031, 3032, 3033, 3034, 3035, 3036 and 3037), Carl Johannink (Gronau, Germany, CAMS 311, 314, 317, 318, 3000, 3001, 3002, 3003, 3004 and 3005), Hervé Lamy (Dourbes, Belgium, CAMS 394 and 395), Hervé Lamy (Humain Belgium, CAMS 816), Hervé Lamy (Ukkel, Belgium, CAMS 393), Koen Miskotte (Ermelo, Netherlands, CAMS 351, 352, 353 and 354), Tim Polfliet (Gent, Belgium, CAMS 396), Steve Rau (Zillebeke, Belgium, CAMS 3850 and 3852), Paul and Adriana Roggemans (Mechelen, Belgium, CAMS 383, 384, 388, 389, 399 and 809, RMS 003830 and 003831), Hans Schremmer (Niederkruechten, Germany, CAMS 803) and Erwin van Ballegoij (Heesch, Netherlands, CAMS 347 and 348).