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The LEONID 
Meteor Shower

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.
Leonid Meteor Shower 2002 - Your Planning Guide

The Leonids are the main meteor event of the year. The Leonids (LEO) are debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonid Meteor Shower occurs every year when the earth passes through this old comet debris. The earth intersects the path of this debris from November 14th until the 21st, with a special concentration of debris hitting the earth's upper atmosphere around November 18th and 19th.

The Leonids are an incredible meteor shower - take a look at some of the best images from last year's display over Japan and you will see what we mean. The photos are by Shigemi Numazawa are magnificent: http://www1.nisiq.net/~numazawa/nippou/leo01e.html

Much has been written about this year’s event in the current issues of the astronomy magazines in North America, and there are many good articles and online links. The November 2002 Leonids are very special, as they may well be the last chance to see a real meteor 'storm' in our lifetime! Mark November 18th and 19th on your calendars now!

So, what makes this year special? In 2002, the rates are predicted to be much higher than normal. In fact, they are predicted to hit 'storm' level, of at least several thousand meteors per hour, for several short durations of time! This activity is in addition to the much lower general Leonid meteor rates over the period November 14th to 21st.

The radiant of the Leonids meteor shower, i.e., the area in the sky where the meteors will seem to come from, is at 153 degrees, ie. RA 10h 12m, Dec +22, which is up in the 'sickle' of the constellation of Leo. That is why they are called Leonids.

Leonid meteors are extremely fast, with a velocity of about 71 km per second. You can see a map of the radiant on the website of the International Meteor Organization (IMO) at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal02.html#Leonids as well as a link to the IMO's special 2002 Leonids page: http://www.imo.net/leo02

A very interesting graphical representation of predicted rates by the main research teams can be found on the website of Hiroshi Ogawa, of the University of Tsukuba, Japan. He plots meteor rates on world maps, using colored grid lines for easy reference. A definite site to check out! http://homepage2.nifty.com/~baron/leo02forcast.htm

Perhaps the best single website for the 2002 Leonids is that of Dr. Peter Jenniskens and the Leonid MAC team at http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov. The site provides a wealth of information on the Leonid meteor shower, its parent comet, and the researchers and experiments flying on the NASA airborne scientific mission.

So what do you really need to know about the predicted Leonid meteor storm in November? Let us fill you in!

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.

Links to Leonids 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.

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
http://www.astromax.org

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