Leonid meteorites due next week.
Russell McMahon email (remove spam text)
Each year at this time the Leonid meteorite "storm" arrives.
If you still have a sense of wonder at celestial occurrences and / or an
enthusiastic batch of children, and don't mind getting up very very early,
then this event is very worthwhile. If the weather is clear I strongly
recommend making the effort. I'll send a followup email if any significant
information comes to hand in the next few days (eg best viewing day is a bit
uncertain from NZ).
Best viewing is in Europe and North America.
These meteorites are incoming debris which has broken off the comet 55p
Tempel-Tuttle during its prior passes.
The two peaks of meteorites due this year broke away in 1767 and 1866
respectively! but NZ viewers will largely see debris from even older passes.
As long as the sky is clear you can expect to see (and even hear *) quite a
few spectacular meteorites and on a very good year (which this may be) you
may see a vast number. Experts say that this MAY be the last good year for
the next 15 or so years. This is more a Northern hemisphere event but
results here can be very spectacular.
For NZers in Auckland an excellent place to observe from is Glover Park in
St Heliers (on the cliffs just along from Ladies Bay) . Expect to find 100
or so thermos carrying people (plus a few people from the Auckland
Observatory) lying on rugs and yelling & pointing enthusiastically at each
new appearance. (I have a friend with teenage children who enjoy the
spectacle enough to make it an annual event). (Follow path from end of
?Waitara Street towards clifftops until you trip over people in the dark).
Best sites are those with a clear general northerly view, clear path to the
horizon and a dark sky. Glover Park meets all these requirements. Sites
along the East Coast bays may do as well.
Good site for information.
Excellent site for slightly more technical detail on what is seen when and
There are expected to be two peaks BUT there may well be older debris
outside these periods and these may give the best viewing.
1st peak 10pm CST Nov 18th
5pm Nov 19th NZ time
Main peak 4:30am CST Nov 19th
10pm Nov 20th NZ time
To convert US CST to NZ time take off 5 hours and ADD a day!
eg 10pm on Nov 19 becomes 5pm on Nov 20.
Generally in NZ the "radiant" does not appear until later in the night and
best viewing is from about 3am until dawn.
Based on various sites the most probable best viewing days for "background"
debris are Nov 17/18, Nov 18/19 and possibly Nov 19/20.
Where to look
Forecast map of meteorite densities
Not too encouraging for NZ.
We are at bottom left edge (opposite side to Australia)
* HEARING METEORITES
While it SHOULD be impossible to hear meteorites as you see them due to
their distance away and the time it takes for sound to travel there is a
significant body of observed "hearings" by competent observers. The
mechanism is debated but it is suspected that some form of radio or low
frequency electrical signal may be produced by the very large energy
involved in creating the ionised meteorite trail and these signals may be
detected by the human ear or associated nerve cells.
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See also: www.piclist.com/techref/index.htm?key=leonid+meteorites
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