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SOMYCE's history

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2. History of SOMYCE.

The origins of meteors' observation in Spain started in the latest 70's, when several amateur groups started to observe visual meteors using FEMA (Federation of European Meteor Astronomers) methodology and report forms.

In the 80's, the first papers were published by: Guillermo Castilla Alcalá (Agrupación Astronómica Albireo, Sevilla) and Eduardo Martínez Moya (Jaén).

On 1985, Josep María Trigo, at that time AVA (Asociación Valenciana de Astronomía) meteor's group coordinator  started to observe visual meteors together with other AVA’s friends like Antonio Francisco Marín, José Luís Martín y Vicente Soldevilla. All of them started observing the 1986 Perseids and Geminids. That same year, Josep María Trigo and Julio Marco González observed the 1986 Ursid outburst.

Also, 1986 was an important year, because of was the return of 1P/Halley comet. For that occasion Ignacio Ferrín (LIADA) had just visited Spain to talk about Halley comet and encouraged the SOMYCE foundation.

As the idea of “observing meteors” was possible, on 1987 new objectives were set to observe as many meteor showers as possible. This task was carried out by a group of about 20 valencian observers. Some active observers were: Miguel Camarasa, Oscar Cervera, José Vicente Díaz, Raúl Fernández, Miguel A. García, Antonio J. Montesinos, Ángel José Nicolás and Andrés R. Paños. At first, they only observe without reporting data, but then some results were published in a few sheets: the primitive journal Meteors.

First ideas about founding SOMYCE came to light in the 1987 Autumn. Founder members were: Óscar Cervera, Raúl Fernández, Antonio Francisco, Vicente Soldevila and Josep María Trigo.

This initial group of observers met other observers which they only knew by post like Juan A. Alduncín, Xavier Bayona, David Martínez, Carles Royo and Sebastià Torrell in the VII Jornadas Nacionales de Astronomía, in Barcelona. 

SOMYCE was legalized in Spain on 1988. This founding was not possible without the support from some adults to legalize the association. In this first stage, Josep María Trigo was our first president, from 1988 to 1992.

Our first books and publications in Spanish related to visual observation were published: Guía para el estudio de los enjambres meteóricos (Trigo, 1991), Meteoros: descripción y metodología (Bellot, 1991), Introducción a la Teoría física de los Meteoros (Bellot, 1992).

On 1992, in La Palma Island, it was celebrated the X Jornadas Nacionales de Astronomía, organized by Agrupación Astronómica de La Palma. This event gave the opportunity to the canarian observers to contact SOMYCE. At that time, other active meteors groups appeared in Granada, Cataluña, Baleares, Murcia and Valencia.

In a "historical meeting" in the I Jornadas de Materia Interplanetaria in Castellón (1993) new members joint like Javier Méndez and  Luis Bellot, both would be presidents of SOMYCE. Luis from 1993 to 1995 and Javier Méndez from 1996 to 1997. 

As first consequence, we organized observational groups divided by topics. Since that time the most active one is the visual commission. Perseids in 1993 were especially active. That year we also organized a radio network, between different stations in Spain.

Quite active member, all them from the “Canarian group” were: Manuel Solano, Víctor Ruiz, Cayetano Santana, Mark Kidger, Javier Sánchez and Domingo Doreste. They helped to print the Meteors journal, to  and design  the first web site of SOMYCE on 1995 and collaborated on administrative tasks.

On 1994 we started to edit a yearbook of meteors observations. The 1994 report was edited by Luis Bellot, this was the seed for future work and, on 1995, the first steps to digitalize our meteors photos were given too. In the same way, we tried to be made knouted others Spanish  astronomical associations, and prepared a  flyer (Mendez and Bellot, 1995) about our main goals, inviting everybody to collaborate in meteors observations.

Two new handbooks were edited: Manual de observaciones Telescópicas (Mendez, 1994) and Guía de Observaciones Visuales de Meteros (Bellot, 1995)

From 1988 to 1998 our visual commission was the most active group and a lot of reports were sent to the Visual Commission of IMO and FIDAC centre of IMO.

However, other important campaigns were organized to observe comets of interest, like: 109P/Swift-Tuttle , C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) or C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake). Handbooks to observe Hyakutake and Hale-Boop were printed and sent to all astronomical associations in Spain and we collected a lot of reports which were sent to International Comet Quarterly. 

However, in a group, sometimes problems arise. The most important was (and it is still) the regular edition of our journal Meteors. Since 1998, our journal Meteors has ISSN, but not before. The “first stage" of our Journal started on 1988, and ended with the number 47 (actually we only edited 41). Those first journals were typewrited, then photocopied and finally mailed to all members, even to South America. It has a curious shape in A5 size.

Meteors have been printed from Valencia (Josep María Trigo, Óscar Cervera et al), Canarias (Victor Ruiz, Cayetano Santana, Luis Bellot, Javier Méndez), Mallorca (Enric Coll, Miguel Antoni Vilalonga, Miguel Ángel Serra and Grupo UMA del Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca) and nowadays from Canary Islands by Orlando Benítez Sánchez.

At the same time, Enric Fraile, started to do the first meteor radio meteor observations from Barcelona. He built the first radio station in Spain. A second station was operated  2006 onwards from Gran Canaria. Nowadays there is a new station operative from Jaén, in the South of Spain by Lorenzo Morillas.

On 1998 a great Leonid activity was expected and we wrote a special handbook, which was prepared, printed, and sent to all the local groups in Spain, it was even published in the main Amateur Astronomicals Journal in Spain at that Moment: Tribuna de Astronomía y Universo. It was a huge success and continued with this  campaign until 2002.   

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias edited a teaching guide for 1999 Leonid campaign, and we collaborated with them in this educational project. We have supported many efforts against light pollution in Spain too.

Finally, on 2000, a new constitution were voted by all members in general assembly. We changed our original denomination Sociedad de Observadores Españoles de Meteoros y Cometas by Sociedad de Observadores de Meteoros y Cometas de España.
This change was possible thanks the to effort of people like Manuel Solano Ruiz, Francisco José Sevilla Lobato, Enric Coll and Orlando Benítez. At that time, a new book about video observations was edited: Observación de meteros con intensificador de Imagen (Benitez, 2002)

More recently, especially interesting it has been our work for IYA 2009 (Benítez, Ocaña and Fraile, 2009) or the Draconids 2011 handbook. Also, we updated ourweb site on 2008 and since 2012 we have presence in social networks, like Facebook and Twitter.

However, our main goal has been the definitive publication of our Archivos de Observaciones (a huge meteor data base), were more than 18 000 sheets were scanned, patiently, along 10 years.

At present, SOMYCE has about 25 active members who live in different cities of Spain. We have two meteor lists in yahoo groups: "meteoros_obs" and "somyce". Mainly, we keep contact through email, telephone and trough our periodic publication 3 times a year: the journal Meteors.

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