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:
- Leonids on the horizon: what is in store for 1999 (NASA/MSFC)
- Basic data (NASA/ARC)
- Basic parameters (Aerospace Corp.)
- Leonid High School project worldwide (Japan)
- Observing guide for researchers (NASA/ARC)
- Leonid viewing tips (StarDate Online)
- Observing guide to the Leonids (IMO)
- Meteor observing guide (NAMN)
- Leonid pages (Gary Kronk)
- Leonid media guide (Peter Jedicke - University of Western Ontario)
- Leonid site of Aerospace Corp.
- Leonid Storm Watch (SETI Institute)
- 55P/Tempel-Tuttle image archive (NASA/ARC)
- Biography of Wilhelm Tempel - the discoverer of the Leonid shower parent body
Leonid shower history:
- A brief Leonid shower history (NASA/ARC)
- Leonids 1833: The Night of Raining Fire (Sky & Tel.)
- The Leonids, King of the meteor showers (J. Rao, Sky & Tel.)
- Leonid shower observations: 1833 to present (G. Kronk)
- Ancient Leonid shower observations (G. Kronk)
Reports on 1998 observations:
- 1998 Leonid news (NASA/ARC)
- Images and Video of Leonid MAC (NASA/ARC)
- The return of the Leonid meteors (Rao - Sky & Tel.)
- Sino-Dutch Leonid campaign - many photos/video (Dutch Meteor Society)
- Leonid meteors in Mongolia (Daniel Fisher, science writer)
- The '98 Leonids at ESA's European Space Operations Center
- Leonids in China (UK-China expedition)
- 1998 Leonids from Slovakia
- Leonid fireball train captured by ROTSE
- Green Leonid fireballs Nov. 16/17, Missouri
Satellite impact hazard:
- The Leonid Storm Fluence Calculator (NASA/MSFC)
- The Upcoming Leonid Meteoroid Storm and its Effect on Satellites (Aerospace Corp.)
- Meteor Storm Hazard - Leonids '98 (CresTech - Canada)
News stories from 1998 Leonids:
- The Leonids are coming, the Leonids are coming! (ScienceNews Online)
- Leonid meteor storm won't deter Hubble (Astronomy Online)
- Space news: Leonid mania
- Mir cosmonauts deploy meteoroid trap during spacewalk
- Leonid Meteors Provide Test Opportunities For Starfire Optical Range
- Meteors get glowing reviews (San Jose Mercury News - Glennda Chui)
- New Mexicans enjoy heavenly light show (AP - Louinn Lota)
- Leonid Fireballs dazzle the world (Sky & Telescope)
- Satellites survive meteor shower (Washington Post)
- Whatever happened to the Leonid meteor shower (Christian Science Monitor)
- Did the Leonid storm peak early? (The Hindu)
Leonid MAC news:
- NASA Astrobiology to shower attention on Leonids (NASA/ARC)
- Research aircraft fly below once in a century Leonid meteor storm (NSF)
- Edwards aircraft lifts scientists for Leonid view (USAF/425nd FTS)
- Boulder Scientists going to Japan (Stern, SWRI)
- Researchers to study Leonids meteor shower from F-15 aircraft (Astronomy online)
- Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign a Resounding Success (NASA/ARC)
- Leonids give Moon a sodium bath
- Leonid 1998 fireballs explained
- Leonid broad component from 1333 ejecta
- Video of 1997 Leonid meteor that fragmented before entry in Earth's atmosphere
- Effect of organics in meteors on visibility (D. Steel)
- The Leonid MAC (webcast) - Dr. Peter Jenniskens
- Mongolia expedition - Lt. Tiffany Montague
- Observing from China (Paul D. Maley)
- Observing from Hawaii (Bill Harby)
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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|This page was last modified on October 8, 1999 by
Casper ter Kuile and Marco Langbroek