[meteorite-list] Leonids Rose To The Occasion -- Despite Bad Weather

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:42:01 2004
Message-ID: <200101182147.NAA28801_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

ESA Science News

17 Jan 2001

Leonids rose to the occasion -- despite bad weather

Dual Camera Observations

During the nights of 16-17 and 17-18 November, Joe Zender and Detlef
Koschny of ESA's Space Science Department at ESTEC attempted to obtain
'stereo' observations of the Leonid meteors with image intensified video
cameras. These cameras are equipped with wide-angle lenses and can record
meteors that are too faint to be seen with the naked eye.

It was hoped that the various observing teams would be able to obtain
parallel observations from four different locations 70 km to 100 km apart.
Zender was observing with a team from the Dutch Werkgroep Meteoren at
Hogersmilde in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, poor weather only allowed
his team to record about 1.5 hours of video data outside the time of the
maximum activity.

Other teams had a little more success. On the night of 16-17 November, two
stations succeeded in observing simultaneously: Henry Henriks (Werkgroep
Meteoren) located at the Heest Observatory and Joost Haartman, Michiel
Brentjens and Roy Keeris (Werkgroep Meteoren) located near Almere at the
Groene Kathedraal, were able to observe with the video cameras for about
4 hours. However, activity was moderate and no dedicated peaks or events
could be reported.

On the next night, the team in Hoogersmilde was able to observe under good
conditions until 00.15 UT. When the clouds and rain closed in, they were
able to dismantle their equipment and rapidly move to a relatively
cloud-free area near Groningen. The camera equipment was set up again by
03.20 UT, about 20 minutes before the predicted peak. Despite problems
with the clouds and Moon, they were able to observe increasing activity,
with about 30 meteors in the first hour. Overcoming more disruption from
the weather, the team was able to recognise another spell of increased
activity at about 04:45 UT. Visual and camera observations continued
until 06.30 UT, with another suggestion of increasing activity before
dawn (from 05.30 UT to 06.15 UT).

Koschny's attempted observations in the Harz mountains of Germany were
also plagued by bad weather. Apart from two sporadic meteors seen from
the Max-Planck-Institute in Lindau-Harz on 17 November, there was nothing
to report.

Simultaneous observations from different sites were not possible on the
second night due to the continually changing location of the teams, but
it is hoped that analysis of the videotapes will give a better idea of
the ZHR (zenithal hourly rate) values. Everyone is hoping for better
luck with the video observations next year!

Echoes of the Leonids

Jean-Pierre Lebreton and Trevor Sanderson from ESA's Space Science
Department at ESTEC used radio signals rather than telescopes or cameras
to observe the elusive meteors. Their technique used the ability of plasma
(ionised gas) clouds around glowing meteor trails to reflect radio waves.

The BBC helped the experiment by transmitting from Woofferton until 06:00
UT (7 Local time), and then switched to its normal transmission schedule
(from Cyprus between 06:00 UT and 08:00 UT, and then from both Woofferton
and Skelton from 08:00 UT onwards).

The radio recordings were excellent, with numerous very unusual echoes
which can be attributed to the Leonids. Preliminary analysis of the High
Frequency night-time radio observations indicates that the (non-sporadic)
activity increased significantly on 18 November, but it seems there was
some activity 1-2 days before (16 and 17 November), and perhaps 1 day
after (19 November).

A rise in activity was noticeable on 18 November between 03:00 and 05:00
UT, and also from 07:00 UT onwards. Few daytime echoes could be detected
during the transmission from Cyprus as the geometry was unfavourable.
However, the activity at around 09:00 on 18 November was much higher
than on the days before or after.

Despite pouring rain until 01:30, the team also managed to capture a few
meteors against the bright Moonlit background on a video taken with a
standard CCD camera. Some of the Leonids displayed impressive trails that
lingered for a few seconds.

24 hour plots have been produced for the following 3 days : 17 November,
18 November, and 19 November. A reference plot, (when the BBC transmission
was OFF over night) was also produced for 12 November.

Tell-tale Flashes on the Moon?

H=E5kan Svedhem of ESTEC's Science Department used a 25 cm telescope and a
video camera to observe the dark hemisphere of the Moon on the nights of
16-17 and 17-18 November, in the hope of seeing some Leonid meteors impact
on the dark part of the Moon.

The search for impacts is a difficult, time-consuming business, since a
flash typically lasts for only one or two video frames. Expectations were
also limited since most impacts were predicted to occur on the lunar far
side, and only a very small visible area at the Moon's northern cusp was
exposed to the meteor stream.

Problems with condensation on the lens forced Svedhem to stop at about
05:40 UT on 17 November -- unfortunate timing, since predictions indicated
that the Moon would pass close to the 1932 dust stream at that time.

The next day proved more rewarding, and he was able to observe the Moon
from 02:19 UT onwards. After preliminary computer analysis of the videotape,
Svedhem has so far found one unquestionable flash of light from an impact
that took place at 05:42 on 18 November, but the search goes on as he
continues to compare consecutive frames and filter out background "noise".


* Leonids 2000: ESA observation reports
* Listening to the Leonids
* More images and sounds files of the Leonids
Received on Thu 18 Jan 2001 04:47:54 PM PST

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