SOMYCE's history

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1. Introduction.

The Sociedad de Observadores de Meteoros y Cometas de España is a national, non-profit association whose main aim is the observation and analysis of interplanetary matter, meteors, comets and asteroids in Spain.

Since its foundation in 1987, SOMYCE has been an active group in the field of meteor’s observation. The efforts of SOMYCE members, both observationally and theoretically, have resulted in several papers published in the professional and amateur literature.

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.

3. Main goals of SOMYCE.

The main goals of SOMYCE are:

- To coordinate the efforts of Spanish observers of meteors, comets and asteroids.
- To collect and analyse the data obtained by both members and non-members of SOMYCE. SOMYCE gives full support to the International Meteor Organization (IMO), and takes care of some of the input into their databases.
- To make all observations carried out by Spanish observers available to the international community.
- To investigate the field of interplanetary matter with special emphasis in meteors, comets and asteroids.
- To form new meteor and comet observers by giving them information about the most suitable methods.
- To inform the general public about interplanetary matter related phenomena.

In order to achieve these goals, SOMYCE is structured in several groups covering the whole spectrum of observational methods. In addition to this structure, many SOMYCE members work together within local groups and astronomical associations in Spain.

If you want more information about SOMYCE, its publications, or simply you wish to join us, please do not hesitate to contact our Secretary at somyce-at-somyce-dot-org

4. SOMYCE Officers.

SOMYCE commissions are independent working groups which perform observations and analysis of specific events in meteor and comet astronomy. Nowadays, four commissions are fully operational (visual observations, video-photographic, fireballs and radio-meteors). Data from other organizations or non-SOMYCE members are most welcome!


Visual and video Commission:
Orlando Benítez Sánchez: comisionvisual-at-somyce-dot-org

Fireball Commission:
Francisco Ocaña González: comisionbolidos-at-somyce-dot-org

Photographic Commission:
José Carlos Millán: comisionfotografica-at-somyce-dot-org

Radio Commission:
Enric Fraile Algeciras: comisionradio-at-somyce-dot-org

PRESIDENT-TREASURER: Orlando Benítez Sánchez.
SECRETARY: José Carlos Millán.

Other Council members:

Francisco Alberto Rodríguez Ramírez: somyce-at-somyce-dot-org

José Vicente Díaz Martínez (Facebook-Twitter webmaster):

Meteors editor: Orlando Benítez Sánchez.

5. Meteors: the quarterly journal of SOMYCE.

The quartely journal Meteors is published by SOMYCE and has a mean circulation of about 35 issues. It is the most important channel of communication for SOMYCE members. Meteors is written in Spanish.

From 1988 to 1997 we edited, bimonthly, 41 issues. However, since 1998, we started to edit our journal with ISSN 1137-9111. In the actual epoch, up to 50 new issues have been published. The journal is written in Spanish, but English abstracts are provided for each article. Meteors is sent free of charge to SOMYCE members and meteor organizations around the world on request.

Our journal contains amateur research papers as well as more introductory articles for beginners. The various sections of Meteors are:

- News. Outstanding news about SOMYCE or special scientific events are commented on.
- Letters to Meteors. This section allows the observers to express their personal opinions and points of view.
- Papers. The core of Meteors. Here we publish research and educational articles on meteors, comets and asteroids.
- Local groups. In this section, each group of observers let other SOMYCE members know about its history, members, activities and main results.
- Reports of the Commissions. Usually, each issue of Meteors contains the reports of activity of several commissions. In these reports the directors give an account of the observations received and a list with the contributing observers. Sometimes, preliminary results are presented.
- Ephemerids. A very important aim of Meteors is to keep the observers informed on all events of interest in the field of comets and meteors. Every four months, Meteor publishes notes for the observers, a radiant list of active showers and ephemerids of visible comets.

The editorial board of Meteors wants to encourage you to submit papers or photographs of meteors and comets. Any contribution can be sent to somyce-at-somyce-dot-org

Finally, you might want to read the abstracts of the papers published in the last issues of Meteors. This information is available (in Spanish) through web site.

6. Our web site.

Our main web site is, however, we have a facebook site too, since 2012,  in

In both places you can find useful information (in Spanish) related to meteors. Some of our publications can be downloaded freely in PDF format.

Also, we have a mailing list in Yahoo groups “meteoros_obs” ( The SOMYCE email group was created to support discussions and the fast information exchange in the Spanish meteor observer community. The forum is maintained by Francisco Ocaña Gonzalez and  Francisco A. Rodríguez.

7. Publications in Spanish.

7.1. Recent publications.

Draconids 2011: an observational guide for visual meteors.

This guide was thought for experienced and beginner visual meteor observers. It gives practical hints to carry out with success visual observations under very high visual activity, and help to send the visual report to IMO.

IYA 2009 Observational guides.

Published in 2009 (Benítez, Ocaña, Fraile, 2009) these four handbooks, written for beginner level, explain the main topics related about the four main fields of meteor observing: video-photo, visual meteors-fireballs, radiometeors and telescopic observations with binoculars.

Perseids observational guide.

Each summer, we publish a guide with regard to this meteor shower and the Acuarids, with hints for beginner meteor observers. In special recommended to visual and photographic observers.
7.2. Special issues of Meteors (Monographs)

Some issues of Meteors are specially devoted to some meteor topic. There has been four specials: Bólidos y Meteoritos (Fireballs and Meteorites, 2003), Dossier de observaciones españolas de bólidos en el periodo 1987-2003 (Spanish Fireball report from 1987-2003, 2004), Especial Archivos de observaciones, 2011) and the most recent special, about spectroscopy (2012)

7.3. Books and handbooks.

Some books have almost 20 years since were published by us, like:

Guía para el estudio de los enjambres meteóricos (Trigo, 1991)
Meteoros: descripción y metetodología (Bellot, 1991)
Introducción a la MeteorosTeoría Física de los Meteoros (Bellot, 1992)
Manual de observaciones telescópicas de meteoros (Mendez, 1994)
Manual de observaciones visuales (Bellot, 1995)
Observación de meteoros con intensificador de imagen (Benítez, 2002).

7.4. Meteor database in DVD-FTP server.

On 2006 SOMYCE edited the first set on DVD edition with all the Spanish meteor observations: visual scanned sheets, video images with MetRec, photographic images, radio counts, radio spectrograms, telescopic observations and fireballs reports. Collected in a case with four DVDs'. This data base stores about 17.2 Gb.

We edited a limited edition of 100 copies to send to SOMYCE members, Astronomical Societies of Spain and IMO members. Unfortunately, the cost of the Second Edition it has done impossible to prepare a new case in the same way, in order to avoid an excessive cost  (the size of files reached 60 Gb)

Thanks to the support of Luis R. Bellot Rubio (CSIC-IAA) we develop a FTP server which you could download all the reports, even some elder journals and books at:

Port: 7272
FTP type: SFTP
USER: ftpspg
Pass: Grupo,Solar

This information can be free downloaded for personal use, divulgation, amateurs and researchers. If you need for a paper or web this information can be taken too, citing the author and the reference: “Archivos de observaciones de la Sociedad de Observadores de Meteoros y Cometas de España (SOMYCE, 2ª Edición, 2011)

Briefly, we resume the information available in the FTP server:

- Visual Meteor Database: visual scanned reports from 1985. We used an Epsom GT-7000 photo scanner with an automatic feeder. All these observations (about 18 000 sheets) were stored in JPG images, which are the original reports and charts scanned with great effort during ten years. The key is:

DDddMMAAAAabcdexNdN.jpg, for example  ej: 2627091998BENORp1d, were:

Ddd: day

MM: month

AAAA: year

abcd: IMO Code

“x” can be:
p: report
c: chart
r: summary
e: train report

NdN: “1d1” or “1d5” tell us how many reports or charts are included in one night of observation.

- Photographic meteor database: specially interesting are the photographic reports from 1998 and 1999 Leonids. We have a lot of images classified by months, but some of them are not dated, however, we collected them too by historical reasons. Image's data are in txt or excel files.

- Comet observations, carried out in the Hyakutake or Hale-Boop campaigns in 1996-1997.

- Video Meteor images from cameras TIMES 4, TIMES 5 and TIMES 6 with full frame images. If you need a complete data in postdat format, we recommend download the updated files from or contact with Sirco Molau.

- Fireball report from 1982 to 2003. Some years are stored in FIDAC Dbase files.

- Telescopic database (charts and reports), mainly from 1994 and 1995.

- Publications, like some issues of Meteors and books.
There is a lot of useful information for the meteor observer. If you need copy of all or part of the data base, you can contact us in Esta dirección de correo electrónico está protegida contra spambots. Usted necesita tener Javascript activado para poder verla.. More information about SOMYCE can be found in our web site

8. Papers published by SOMYCE members.

Here we give a list of some of our contributions to meteor and cometary science published in WGN or IMC Proceedings ordered by alphabetical author's name:

[1] Bellot Rubio L.R., The Alpha Capricornids in 1988 and 1989, WGN 18:1 (1990), p. 26-28.
[2] Bellot Rubio L.R., 1991, The 1991 Aquarids and Perseids from Spain, WGN 19 (1991), p. 213.
[3] Bellot Rubio L.R., 1992, Quadrantid and Coma Berenicid activity in Spain, WGN 20:2 (1992), p. 93-94.
[4] Luis R. Bellot Rubio. On the Presence of trains in meteor Showers, W   Bellot Rubio L. R., Dependence of the population index on the radiant zenithal distance, WGN 22:1 (1994), p. 140-149
[5] Bellot Rubio L.R., An analysis of the Taurid radiants,  WGN 22:4 (1994), p. 108-110
[6] Bellot Rubio, L.R., Spatial number densities and errors from photographic meteor observations under very high activity, WGN 22:4 (1994), p. 118-130.
[7] Bellot Rubio L.R., 1995, Determination of fragmentation parameters from photographic and video data, Proceedings of the IMC 1995.
[8] Arlt, R., Bellot Rubio L.R., Brown P., Gyssens M., Bulletin 15 of the International Leonid Watch: First Global Analysis of the 1999 Leonid Storm, WGN 27:6 (1999), p. 286-295
[9] Bellot Rubio L.R., Reyes Andrés F., Visual double station observations of Taurids and Leonids in 1990, WGN 19 (1991), p. 210-211.
[10] Bellot Rubio L.R., Román A., Rute A., Plotting errors in FIDAC data and consequences for shower association, WGN 21 (1993), p. 279-282.
[11] Benítez Sánchez O., 2001, Video Meteor Observations from the Canary Islands: first results and prospects, WGN 29:2 (2001), p. 37-41
[12] Benítez Sánchez O., On the presence of persistentrains in Leonids Fireballs from 1998, 1999 and 2000 Spanish meteor Observations, WGN 30:4 (2002), pp. 111-119
[13] Benítez Sánchez O., Ocaña González F., A fireball analysis from Spanish meteor observation, WGN 32:2 (2004), p. 29-34
[14] Benítez Sánchez O., A determination of Population Index, tau, for persistent trains: a comparison between fireballs from main meteor showers and sporadic, WGN 33:5, p. 118-124
[15] Benítez Sánchez O., SOMYCE database. WGN 34:6, p. 156-156
[16] Kidger M.R., Comet P/Swift-Tuttle and the Perseids, WGN 21:3 (1993), p. 121-129.
[17] Kidger M.R, On the existence of the June Lurids Meteor Shower, WGN 28:5 (2000),  p. 171-176
[18] Méndez Álvarez J.E., Spanish Telescopic Observations, WGN 23:3, p. 97-98
[19] Francisco Ocaña, Mario F. Palos, Jaime Zamorano, Alejandro Sánchez de Miguel, Jaime Izquierdo, Bárbara Muñoz-Ibáñez, Alejandro Santamaría and Jesús Gallego. "The 2011 Draconid outburst: UCM group preliminary results from Spain" Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference, La Palma Island, Spain, 20-23 September, 2012
[20] F. Ocaña, J. Zamorano, A. Sánchez de Miguel, J. Izquierdo, M.F. Palos, G. Rodríguez-Coira, R.García, C. Vázquez, B. Muñoz-Ibáñez, A. Santamaría, J. Gallego, J.M. Trigo-Rodríguez and J.M. Madiedo. "First scientific results of the Fireball Detection Station at UCM Observatory" Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference, La Palma Island, Spain, 20-23 September, 2012
[21] F. Ocaña, J. Zamorano. Narrow-band photometry of meteors". Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference. Sibiu, Romania, 15-18 September 2011.
[22]  F. Ocaña, J. Zamorano, A. Sánchez de Miguel, J. Izquierdo, E. Manjavacas, P. Ramírez-Moreta, R. Ponce. Setting-Up a Fireball Detection Station at UCM Observatory. Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference. Armagh, Northern Ireland(UK), 16-19 September 2010.
[23]  F. Ocaña, J. McAuliffe and D. Koschny. Meteoroid spatial number density and flux calculation with video meteor observation. I. Proceedings of the International Meteor Conference. Armagh, Northern Ireland(UK), 16-19 September 2010.
[24] Solano Ruiz M., Using a Planisphere for Measuring Altitude and Angular Distance of a Meteor, Proceedings of the IMC, Brandenburg, Germany, 1995, p. 53-54
[25] Trigo J.M., 1989, The Epsilon Perseids in 1987 and 1988, WGN 17, p. 156-158.
[26] Trigo J.M., The 1990 Lyrids from Spain, WGN 18:4 (1990), p. 165-166.
[27] Trigo J.M., The Alpha Capricornids and Delta Aquarids South in 1989, WGN 19:2 (1991), p. 61-64.
[28] Trigo J.M., The 1989 Eta Aquarids in Spain, Uruguay and Bolivia, WGN 19:4 (1991), p. 60-61.
[29] Trigo J.M., Spanish visual observations in the winter 1991-1992, WGN 20:2 (1992), p. 92.
[30] Trigo, J.M., Observations of the 1994 Leonids from Spain., WGN 22:6 (1994), p. 193-194
[31] Trigo, J.M., Spanish observations of the 1996 Leonids., WGN 25:1 (1997), p. 53-54
[32] Trigo, J.M., High activity of the 1996 Geminids in Spain., WGN 25:2 (1997), p. 116.
[33] Trigo, J.M., Impressive Perseid fireball over Spain. WGN 25:4 (1997), p. 187-189.
[34] Trigo J.M., 1994, Determination of Spatial Number Density from Photography, Proceedings of the IMC 1993.
[35] Trigo Rodriguez J. M. y Camarasa Yuste M., “Spain: Heyday of Meteor Investigation”, WGN 18:1, febrero 1990, p. 24-26.


[1] Benítez Sánchez O., Archivos de observaciones de SOMYCE, Meteors, nº42, October 2011.
[2] Meteors, revista de SOMYCE.
[3] La historia de SOMYCE. Josep Maria Trigo i Rodriguez y Enric Coll  Sociedad de Observadores de Meteoros y Cometas de España. Astronomía Digital, nº 2, noviembre de 1998 (in
[4] Aproximación histórica al desarrollo de la astronomía en España. Escrito por Fernández Pérez, Iván Fernández Pérez, Universidad de  Santiago de Compostela. Tese de doutoramento. Facultad de Matemáticas.

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