Leonids 1999: prospects

Prospects and observational conditions by the NAMN (Mark Davis)

Now is the time to think seriously about your observing plans for the Leonid meteor shower coming up in mid-November!

According to the professionals, there is a good chance that the Leonids could 'storm', with thousands of meteors visible. If it does storm, the predictions seem to favor a European longitude as far as location goes. However, meteor showers can be very unpredictable, and nobody will know for sure what the Leonids will actually do until it happens!

Should you try to travel to see this shower? Many people are planning to do just that. However, it is also very important from a global perspective to get as many observers as possible scattered around the world - covering all bases as it were - to gather observations at widely separated locations and times, both in the days leading up to the shower, and the days afterwards. So, if you are unable to travel - you are still extremely valuable as an observer!

Give serious thought as to what types of observations you want to do for the Leonids - and plan now. Do you want to do visual observations, or perhaps some photography as well? Do you have a video camera? Perhaps you might want to have that running during your observing session too. It will be almost winter by mid-November, so plan for cold nights, and get your winter gear ready now.

Check out the web resources on the Leonids. Perhaps the best single place to start is Dr. Peter Jenniskens' Leonid homepage, at: http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov. It has a wide variety of information, including details on the '99 Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign, and such things as a Teacher's Corner, and a Media Center for Leonid information.

The "Links" section on Dr. Jenniskens website is excellent, and connects you to information on the meteor shower, how to observe it, the parent comet, history of the shower, recent observations, the satellite hazards, news stories, reports of the airborne experiments, related science news and personal stories. Articles relating to 1998 will be updated when 1999 info becomes available. Both make fascinating reading. Some of the topics covered in these links include:

1999 - general information:

Observing guides:

Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle:

Leonid shower history:

Reports on 1998 observations:

Satellite impact hazard:

News stories from 1998 Leonids:

Leonid MAC news:

Science news:

Personal stories:

These are just some of the articles available. Many more will be added for 1999.

So, start reading up on the Leonids now, and give serious thought as to what you would like to do to observe them! If you are an experienced observer, you will be making fairly specific plans.

If you are a new observer, or perhaps just discovering what meteors are all about, don't be discouraged though by all the technical talk. It is more important to just plan to watch the Leonids - and show your friends, your family and your children what an incredible sight a meteor shower can really be!

That's November 16/17/18.... mark your calendars now!

Mark Davis, MeteorObs@charleston.net
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, USA
Coordinator, North American Meteor Network

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Dutch Meteor Society This page was last modified on October 8, 1999 by
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