Skip to comments.Meteor Storm Coming
Posted on 11/17/2002 5:41:57 PM PST by Sub-Driver
Meteor Storm Coming
by KYW's Karen Adams People along the east coast, including in the Philadelphia region, are in for an astronomical spectacle Monday night into Tuesday morning. Forecasters are predicting not the annual Leonid meteor shower, but a meteor storm.
At the peak of a meteor shower you can usually see about 10 meteors an hour racing across the dark sky. But during a meteor storm, Wayne Adams, a sky watcher with the Bucks Mont Astronomical Association, says you see many, many more:
"This year they're predicting that we can see anywhere between three to five thousand meteors per hour at the peak."
The storm's expected to begin around 11 Monday night with earth grazers.
"Earth grazers are meteors that hit the atmosphere and skip along the atmosphere much like skipping stones on a pond," Adams says.
The best time to see the storm in the Philadelphia area will be 5:30 Tuesday morning. Adams says just face south and look about half way up from the horizon.
Wait, that's the Triffids not the Leonids . . .
Around 11 p.m. EST on Monday night, Nov.18, observers in New England as well as the Canadian Maritime Provinces could see earthgrazers as the Earth passes near the dust trail laid down by comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1767 (weather permitting). The Leonids radiant, as seen from these localities, will be near or just above the east-northeast horizon when our planet encounters those dust streams.
Earthgrazers may also be observable across parts of northern Canada where the Leonid radiant will lie close to the horizon, but unfortunately the radiant will be too far below the horizon for the rest of North America. Conversely, across much of Europe and western Africa, the Leonid radiant will be high in the sky, so as to preclude visibility of any Earthgrazers.
Hawaiian observers might be able to spot Earthgrazers around 12:35 a.m. Hawaiian Standard Time on Tuesday, Nov. 19. That's when Earth will pass through the center of a stream of comet debris laid down by Tempel-Tuttle in 1866. For much of North America, the Leonids radiant will be high above the south-southeast horizon during that same 1866 stream encounter.
Not bloody likely, with all the city light pollution interfering with the view.
Those who view my daily posting of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day are already well-informed and ready for the show.
Here's a diagram of the meteor radiant (apparent point of origin:
The shower peak time depends on your location, and what you can see depends upon the weather and how dark your skies are. Remember, a nearly-full moon will interfere.
Here's a link to a java applet which will help you pinpoint your location's peak viewing time and meteors per hour. Leonid Flux Estimator.
Remember, this is the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 19th for FReepers in North America.
If you are clouded out, there are web cameras which may show meteor trails. Night Sky Live Project
So look in a direction which is not too close to the radiant, but also isn't toward the moon. An eyeful of that brightness wreaks havoc on night vision.
Face southeast and find the brightest object in the very early morning sky besides the moon. That will be the planet Jupiter. The radiant for the meteor shower is near it.
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