[meteorite-list] Leonid report
From: Mike Reynolds <MReynolds_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:47:12 2004
I happened to be one of the "lucky ones" who caught the 1966 Leonids. As a
12-year old, this was my first meteor shower (I thought "they must all be
like this..."). So I was really looking forward to this year's event. And it
did not disappoint!
We drove 100 miles to the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California.
Like many others, I did a lot of photography (three working cameras and two
back-up cameras) and meteor counts, along with a couple of experienced
observers (besides myself). I also had several friends who came along for
And what a show! Rates started at a measly 100/hour when we began at 12:30
AM. From there it was no where but up. We took all-sky counts which gave us
good rate estimates. Our average was around 1,250/hour, with a major peak
around 2:37 AM. For a few brief minutes we were seeing 2-3 meteors per
second! Amazing!! I would look "into" the shower radiant, which gave me the
impression of moving through space (which indeed we are!). Then I would turn
my back to the radiant, watching the meteors come over my head like a
waterfall. That reminded me of that wonderful painting of the 1833 Leonids
over Niagara Falls...
We observed many bright meteors and numerous meteors with trains. The
brightest we saw was a -6 magnitude with a train that seemed like it lasted
Our limiting zenithal magnitude was around 5.8, with a sky transparency of
about 7-8 (on a 1-10 scale). Some "valley fog" occasionally crept in, but
generally we had great skies until about 4 AM, when we were still having
rates of about 600 meteors an hour.
A good friend called me from Australia to report, in spite of some clouds,
they also had great rates.
At Chabot Space & Science Center we were deluged by press before and during
the Leonids storm. We put on an event for those who didn't want to travel a
long distance (unlike crazies like me!). We unfortunately had to turn
hundreds of people away!
Savor this experience, all. It truly was one of those "once-in-a-lifetime"
Keep Looking Up,
Mike Reynolds, Ph.D.
Chabot Space & Science Center
Author of "Falling Stars"
Received on Mon 19 Nov 2001 08:22:07 PM PST