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[Fwd: Near-Live Leonid Watching System] Ever so slightly off topic de WB2GZM/VK3JJH

Folks, this may be of some remote interest to you.  Hoping that our
remaining birds will not get too close...


Ron Baalke wrote:

> Forwarded from George Varros (gvarros@mail.hq.nasa.gov)
> Subject: Near-Live Leonid Watching System
> In anticipation of "higher than normal" meteor activity
> during this November's annual Leonid Meteor Shower,
> NASA has created an image library and invites amateur
> astronomers, photographers and individuals with Single
> Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras or other imaging equipment,
> to upload their Leonid  meteor photographs or images to
> the Near-Live Leonid Meteor Watching System.
>             http://leonids.hq.nasa.gov/
> A Brief Background on the Leonid Meteors:
> Every 33 years, there is a higher probability that the
> Leonid Meteor Shower will turn into a meteor storm.
> This is caused by the parent comet 55P/Temple-Tuttle and
> its 33 year orbit around the sun, which nearly intersects
> that of Earth's. Fortunately, this occurs with Earth and
> the comet on different sides of Earth's orbit.
> As it approaches the inner solar system and is heated by
> the sun, the comet replenishes its path with tiny bits of
> material eroded away by the solar wind and radiation. As
> Earth travels in its path around the sun and encounters
> this debris stream, the small grains of material in this
> stream slam into Earth's upper atmosphere at a very high
> rate of speed becoming incandescent and leaving an ionized
> and luminous trail that we see as meteor or "falling star".
> On an average year, 15 to 20 Leonid meteors per hour can be
> seen, depending on your local viewing conditions. During a
> storm year, anything can happen as history has shown. The
> last major Leonid Meteor Storm occurred on November 16, 1966,
> peaking for observers in the mid-western United States. Hourly
> meteor rates were estimated to be as high as 144,000! Historical
> accounts dating back to the 1833 and 1866 Leonids are fascinating
> to read! The 1899 and 1932 Leonids were largely missed and it is
> suspected that Jupiter may have altered the meteor stream's orbit
> for those years.  Studies also suggest 2000, 2001 or even 2002
> could be much better than normal years, with significantly higher
> meteor counts than normal years! The 1999 Leonid Meteor Shower
> is an event that has been long anticipated by the astronomy
> community.
> Predictions:
> The peak of the meteor shower or "storm component" has been
> predicted by the experts to interact with Earth some time between
> 01:48 and 04:15 Universal Time, November 18, 1999. Observable
> hourly rates should be significantly higher than normal years,
> perhaps on the order of several hundred to several thousand per
> hour during the peak.   However, it must be emphasized that the
> various components of a meteor shower, such as peak time and
> hourly rates are extremely hard to predict.  The peak time can
> be off by several hours and recorded counts will certainly vary
> with local sky conditions, the moon and light pollution, visual
> obstructions and location on Earth.
> If the peak occurs during the earlier predicted time, Asia and
> Europe will be positioned favorably with the radiant high overhead.
> If it occurs a few hours past the later predicted time, the western
> portions of Europe and Africa, along with the East Coast of the
> United States, will be positioned favorably.  This is certainly an
> event not to be missed and it would be well advised to look for the
> Leonids during the early morning hours of November 17th and November
> 19th, due to the uncertainty.
> A Scenario For US East Coast Observers:
> The radiant or apparent area of origin of the meteors, in the
> constellation Leo, rises in the east shortly before midnight local
> time November 17th (November 18, 1999 05:00 Universal Time).  No
> Leonid meteors should be expected to be seen prior to this due to
> the direction that the meteors travel. The moon will interfere with
> meteor visibility shortly after the radiant rises. It will be waxing
> gibbous or just past half full and will be setting around 1:00AM local
> time.  It should be noted that the radiant does rise just after the
> predicted peak for US East Coast observers. However, if the peak, which
> is very hard to predict is a few hours late, the US will be able to
> observe the peak with the radiant higher in the sky!
> George Varros

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