Meteors: The Leonids caught everyone by surprise, giving not a storm but a very vigorous display on the night before they were tentatively predicted. In the early hours of Nov 17 (1998) Dave Gavine looked out in the hope of catching a few "casual" meteors and saw the event at its height in 2½ hours (0115-0400 with a 15 minute tea & warming-up break) he saw 194 Leonids and 4 Sporadics. All the Leonids left trains, many were very brilliant. One amazing fireball at 0215 was about -10 (nearly as bright as the Moon), it was also seen by Lorna and Douglas McCalman who clocked up over 60 meteors, and it left a train in Gemini lasting 16 minutes, twisting in upper-air winds. Many meteors were also seen by Charlie Gleed. Dave photographed 22 meteors, 7 of them on one frame. The following night was overcast, but on 18/19 Dave saw 3 Leonids and 3 Sporadics in 1 hour, none of them bright. Spare a thought for poor Jamie Shepherd who went to Australia in anticipation of the expected huge event in the eastern hemisphere, and saw only a handful. Watch out for a possible repeat this November and keep reading the literature.
Dave Gavine saw 51 Geminids over the 3 nights 12-15 December but in rather poor skies.
Aurora: Only one major display despite the rising solar activity. Jan 13/14, an intense homogeneous arc visible when the clouds cleared at 2110, then bright green and red rays spread along it and filled most of the northern sky. It broke up into flaming patches and ray bundles but was gone by midnight. Ron Livesey followed the activity on his magnetometer, Dave Gavine took photographs, and it was also observed by Lorna McCalman and Charlie Gleed.
Charlie took photos of the close approaches of the planets Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon in February but the night of the very close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter was overcast. He is fitting a 60mm guide scope to his 8-in Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain.
Ron Livesey continues to monitor the magnetic field and the sunspot numbers. He, Dave and Lorna are also involved in variable star programmes.
Dave saw Noctilucent Cloud on June 19/20, 20/21, 23/24 and July 4/5 but they were faint and summer skies have been very poor so far.