On the Leonid Meteor Shower in 1997.

Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 17:27:03 -0800
To: Griffith.Email.List@earthlink.net
From:  John Mosley 
Subject: Leonid Meteor Shower Possible Monday Morning

If you're an amateur astronomer and a gambler you'll be interested in the
possible meteor shower early on the morning of Monday, November 17. Then
there *might* be a spectacular Leonid meteor shower. Chances are slim for a
grand show, but if it does come off it could be something else. All you
risk is a bit of sleep if you lose.

The Leonid shower occurs every year on or near November 17. Most years this
is a very minor shower of interest only to specialists, and in fact so few
fall that it would be hard to know that a meteor shower is going on. Every
33 years, however, it usually  produces a super shower when meteors fall
like snow -- faster than people can count. These are the greatest meteor
showers in history. The last was in 1966 and the next is due in 1999. That's
two years from now; what is special about 1997?

The shower is very brief, and it has a maximum that can be only an hour
long. That means you have to be on the right part of the earth to see it.
It's like a solar eclipse -- only people in part of one continent see it
while the everyone else misses it. This year, the shower peaks at 4:40 a.m.
Pacific Time on Monday morning, the 17th, which favors the western states.
Next year and in 1999 the shower peaks during the day for California
observers and we'll probably miss it, regardless of how strong it is. In
2000 it could be good for the East Coast. But this is *our* chance, and if
you're a gambler you should take it. Set your alarm for 4 a.m. or so early
Monday morning and check the sky. Remember -- the shower could last less
than an hour! Unfortunately the bright moon will still be high in the sky,
washing out the fainter meteors.

The Leonids radiate from the Sickle part of Leo, which then will be high in
the southeast, although meteors will appear all over the sky. The meteors
are very fast.

The Leonid meteors come from Comet Temple-Tuttle, which like the meteor
storm returns every 33 years, due to be an amateur object at around 9th
magnitude early next year.


"Destination Mars," the planetarium show that features Buzz Aldrin,
concludes its long un on Sunday, November 16.

This email is provided as a service by the Griffith Observatory.
To add your name to the list, send a message to:

     Griffith Observatory 

   with "Subscribe" in the subject field.

   To remove your name, send email to list@GriffithObs.org with "Remove" in the subject field.

Griffith Observatory                   Griffith phone: (213) 664-1181
2800 East Observatory Road               Griffith fax: (213) 663-4323
Los Angeles, California 90027 USA          http://www.GriffithObs.org


Comments: Rein, W6/PA0ZN

Top Page