[meteorite-list] Leonids from Lake Arrowhead, CA

From: Matson, Robert <ROBERT.D.MATSON_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:47:12 2004
Message-ID: <AF564D2B9D91D411B9FE00508BF1C8698E5797_at_US-Torrance.mail.saic.com>

Hi All,

Just got back from Lake Arrowhead, CA, and have spent the last
hour reading through all the Leonid reports waiting to see if
anyone saw a better show than our group did. So far, evidently
not! "Wow" is not a strong enough word. I've seen a lot of
meteor showers in my 39 years, but this Sunday morning was in
a class by itself. If 1000 meteors/hour is the accepted
threshold for a meteor storm, let me say that Lake Arrowhead
*FAR EXCEEDED* this! In 3 1/2 hours of viewing, I easily
exceeded the sum total of all prior meteors I've ever seen
(and I saw hundreds during the 1998 Leonids alone).

I really don't know how well I can estimate the peak hourly
rate -- but I can set a lower limit. In one 2-minute period
just after 3:00am PST I counted 77. And based on the ooohs
and ahhs of some of the other 20+ people around me, I missed
quite a few in that window (you can only look in so many
directions at one time!) 77*30 = 2310/hour. So the peak
rate easily exceeded 2500/hour. I can't tell you how many
times 5, 6, 7 and even 8 meteors were in the sky at one time!

I didn't keep an overall count for my 3 1/2 hours but it was
well into the thousands. I was too busy taking pictures and
just enjoying the amazing spectacle. I convinced a dozen of
my friends that this was not some run-of-the-mill, over-hyped
meteor shower, but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. None
were disappointed.

I decided to try a new higher-grain 800-speed color print
film on this outting -- Kodak Professional SUPRA 800. I'm
sure I've got some great shots on this roll -- can't wait
to get them developed. My exposures varied from 25 to 80
seconds depending on the amount of activity during the shot.
All were shot at 28mm, f/4 (as fast as this wide-angle lens
goes). The combination of film speed and the higher f/#
will not capture the dim meteors, but as everyone has been
reporting, there were plenty of bright ones. I won't be
surprised to see 8 or more in one picture.

I was particularly impressed with the large number of
nearly point meteors in the sickle of Leo -- ordinarily
this would not be a good direction for capturing many
meteors on film. But when I kept counting 4 or 5 per
minute within 10 degrees of the radiant, I just had to
take a few pictures centered on Leo.

Needless to say, our observing site was excellent thanks
to the high altitude (around 6000' if memory serves). We
had a few hazy thin clouds from time to time, mostly before
2am and always to the south and west of us. Limiting
magnitude varied from +5.5 to +6. Not as dark as the
+6.5 or better that you can get in the Mojave Desert,
but far better than anything in L.A. or Orange County.

I look forward to hearing a report from Bob Verish -- I
think he was desert-bound for the shower, and the weather
looked relatively clear to our north.

How was the show in Hawaii?

Rob Matson
Received on Sun 18 Nov 2001 09:21:22 PM PST

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