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Leonids Meteor Storm 11/17,18/01

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Posted by Bob Sal on November 19, 2001 15:01:25 UTC

Hi All;
I tell we really lucked out. Not only was it a great meteor shower, the sky cooperated being clear and extremely still. I was up observing Friday night till almost 2AM. Didn’t get much sleep, had to take the kids to Sat morning bowling league. Sat night I laid down from 11:00 to 1:00. Then I got up, set up the scope and was observing by 1:30. From my backyard I can only see about 40% of the sky, but I’m lucky because Leo was visible all night. I’m sure the show was even better from a clear dark sight. Here’s the time line.

1:30 –2:00, 15 meteors including 2 fireballs that looked like Comets streaking across the sky.

2:00 – 3:00, 12 meteors (I’m sure I missed plenty). Things were not coming in so fast at this point so I looked at a few deep sky objects, Saturn and Jupiter. Saturn was unbelievable! The sky was as still as I’ve ever seen it. Saturn was the best ever. The Casini division looked like it was penciled in. Crepe ring clear as a bell. Don’t know the name of the other rings, there was the thin ring on the outer edge and a shadow ring on the inner ring. It looked like a record album. Really nice! Jupiter was outstanding. The dark Equatorial zone was filled with dark spots and a big white spot. Thin Belts were visible all over the globe, all well defined. It was amazing, like in the middle of this fabulous meteor storm, Jupiter and Saturn were screaming for attention.

3:00 – 3:30, 8 meteors, I was still observing at this point but things were picking up.

3:30 – 4:00, 26 meteors, I wasn’t doing much observing now. I pointed the scope at the Radiant in hopes of catching something in the scope, no luck. I still looked at Jupiter and Saturn occasionally, they were magnificent, couldn’t keep away. There was also a double meteor in UM that looked like parallel lines. That was great.

4:00 – 4:30, 47 meteors. What a show! No more observing in the scope. Another double meteor in UM. I was also seeing sparks near and around the Radiant. I thought it might be my imagination since thing were happening so fast. I read in another report (by Erik Zimmerman) that these were meteors that were coming straight at us. No streak. Cool! I’m sure I saw more that I counted, I was catching them in the corner of my and eye and in the trees, didn’t add them to my count till later when my wife got up and we both saw them. I missed what turned out to be the star meteor of the show. I looked away for a few seconds, was writing down some numbers, I looked back and saw the curly shaped cloud right close to the Radiant. I read about this one in other reports. Missed it! I did swing the scope to the cloud and observed the cloud in the scope. Very cool, looked like a huge version of the Orion nebula. The smoke lasted for about 5 to 10 minutes.

4:30 – 4:45, not one meteor, which was not surprising, I went into the kitchen to make coffee. I also got the kids up to see. They were excited, came out for about 10 minutes, and then went back to bed. Maybe they’ll tell their grand-children about it. The night their father woke them for the great meteor storm of 2001.

4:45 – 5:00, 36 meteors. They started coming in just about as fast as you could count them at times.

5:00 – 5:10, 49 meteors. This was genuinely amazing, never saw anything like it, it was basically raining meteors.

5:10 – 5:20, 33 meteors. They just kept coming.

5:20 – 5:30, 51 meteors. It keeps going and going and going.

5:30 – 5:40. 50 meteors. What else can I say besides, my neck hurts. We got another one with a nice smoke trail that lasted a few minutes. Got the scope on this one again.

5:40 – 5:50, 22 meteors. Bad news, the Suns coming up.

5:50 – end. We saw 37 more in the next 20 minutes or so as we packed up the scope and stuff and the stars disappeared. It saw basically morning and I still saw 3 more sparks with trails as I took the stuff into the house. We went out for breakfast, got back around 7:00 AM. The Show was over. Good night!

That’s it;

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