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AAAA News and Activities


November 17, 2000

How many meteors will we really see, and when?
Where do we have to go to see the Leonids?
What equipment do we need for observing?
For recording meteors, what should we record?
Where can we get more specialized information?
Leonids 2001 - November 17, 2001
Astro Geek's Leonids 2001 Report by Stephen LaFlamme
Leonids 2000
Leonids 1998 - Report by Brenda Culbertson.

Read Ron Zincone's Report and View Photos

Leonid Fireball - Photo copyright by Robert Reeves, San Antonio Astronomical Association

Leonid Meteor Burst, November 17, 1998, 
Robert Reeves, San Antonio, TX

Leonids Encounter

Didn't see any Leonids last night. Moon was too bright. Right next to the radiant. Only a few sporadic meteors were seen. 

Besides, I saw three jackals, a pair of lesser whistling teal in flight, heard the calls of several red wattled lapwings, an Indian jerbil, a few spotted owlets, Indian flying fox. A pair of mounted cops also wanted to know what was I doing so late at night with a pair of binos and other stuff. Showed them my card. After exchanging a few pleasantries they left. (Was a bit bored, an encounter with a were-wolf might have helped.) 

Manoj Pai, India
November 18, 2000

Leonid Meteor Shower - November 17, 2000: What could be the most intense meteor shower of the year peaks on Friday evening, November 17, 2000, in the twenty minutes before midnight. Although few meteors are expected to fall this year, interest is high, and many people will be watching the sky in case activity is greater than expected.

Meteors are produced when tiny pieces of dust shed by comets long ago fall through the earth's atmosphere. They fall so fast that friction with the air heats them to incandescence, and they appear as "shooting stars" or "falling stars." A few meteors fall each hour every night of the year, but occasionally the earth passes near the orbit of an active comet and meteors fall by the dozens as a meteor shower. The next reliable meteor shower is the Geminid, which peaks on December 14.

Each November the earth passes near the orbit of comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet's path is littered with trails of dusty debris, some of  which are dense and produce super meteor showers, in which meteors fall like snow. In other years, the earth misses these dust trails, and there is a weak shower or none at all. This year, the earth is expected to experience a minor and very brief shower late on the evening of Friday, the 17th.

The best time to observe is from 11:40 p.m. EST to midnight, around the shower's short peak at 11:51 p.m. on the night of the 17th, when the earth passes near the stream of dust shed in 1866. Perhaps as many as one meteor a minute or so will be seen. Fewer meteors will fall during the hour before and after the peak.

Leonid meteors will radiate from the direction of Leo, which is low in the east, although they will appear all over the sky. Leonid meteors hit the earth's atmosphere at 140,000 miles per hour and produce exceptionally swift streaks

Unfortunately, the last-quarter moon, which is quite bright, rises at 10:55 p.m. EST and is low in the east (in Leo, near the radiant point!) the rest of the night. The moon will light the sky and wash out the faint meteors.

Links to Leonids 2000 Web Sites

Leonid Peak Online Estimator: If you want to find out the estimated peak times for where you live, go to this site, and check out your location. At the bottom of the screen is a flux calculator. Pick the city closest to you and launch the calculator. It should give you a pretty good idea what the times will be for your area.

Leonids 2000 Web Sites

Leonid Peak Online Estimator

The American Meteor Society 

  International Meteor Organization 

Thanks to Paul Greenhalgh of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, moderator of the Astronomy Clubs Around the World eGroup, for providing this information.

Ed Flaspoehler, Vice President
American Association of Amateur Astronomers

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