Duck and cover---spectacular meteor shower expected Nov 18 : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread


-- (, November 03, 2001


A typical Leonid shower yields about 10 to 15 meteors per hour, but this year Jenniskens estimates the meteor shower will have as many as 4,200 an hour at its peak. Viewers along the East Coast will likely see the meteors fall directly from above, while in the West they will shoot across the sky at an angle.

Can you just imagine how many phone calls the police and fire depts. are gonna get, with people thinking that we're under some kind of attack?.....Gawd, I don't even wanna think about it.

On a brighter note...thanks for posting this, Lars. I've always been interested in the great 'up there'...soooo beautiful.

-- Peg (, November 03, 2001.

I'd love to see it from northern New Mexico, or some place of equivalent altitude, clear air and no city lights.

Except Afghanistan.

-- (, November 03, 2001.

Just so they don't get too close or too big

-- (Bruce Willis, not @ Demi', November 03, 2001.

Haven't you guys learned anything from Gary North, this meteor shower is just a cover up for the y2k testing the gubmint is secretly doing. If their testing doesn't go right, they will blame it all on the Leonoid DeCaprio meteor shower, and perhaps Bin Laden.

-- bogsworth (running@on.8cylinders), November 04, 2001.

I read a theory about the Tunguska explosion. It hit the day before the Leonids were due to start. The theory was that an really big piece showed up early and exploded over Siberia.

-- helen (, November 04, 2001.

Helen, thought I saw a TV show on Tungusta that concluded it was a comet. Course there are theories of UFOs and nuclear explosions.

Anyhow, good thing it didn't happen during the Cold War.

-- (, November 04, 2001.

The Leonids are believed to be the remains of a comet.

-- helen (, November 05, 2001.

Wish I was back in NM instead of $%*@#~! Oregon so I could see it...

scratchin' an itch...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 05, 2001.

Actually it will start after sundown on the evening of the 17th. Need to keep this from falling off the list as a reminder, otherwise I'll forget.

-- Skywatcher (, November 09, 2001.

Oh sorry, thought it said ducking under the covers. ;)

-- Pammy (sounds@like.more fun), November 09, 2001.

Pammy you are too much... LOL.

Is Mr. Pammy on a business trip???

sniffin' the air...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 10, 2001.

Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.

--Mae West

-- Pammy ;) (no@business.trip), November 10, 2001.


While the cat is away the dog can play...

Scopin' out the territory...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 10, 2001.


-- helen (self@appointed.moral.authority), November 11, 2001.

Self appointed moral authority? Of what? Goats and extra-marital mud wrestling? ;)

-- Jack Booted Thug (, November 11, 2001.

JBT, are you sure you're not KoS? ;)

-- Pammy (handing@helen.some chocolate to soothe her), November 12, 2001.


Rollin' on the floor...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 12, 2001.

thank you for the chocolate know, we never SAW KOS, so anyone could pass for him, even JBT...and who said it was "extra-marital" mudwrestling...?

-- helen (, November 12, 2001.

helen, if I can interrupt your martian mudrassling for a minute, I need more info on the meteor shower. (I once dated a girl who thought that taking a shower was a contact sport. *BIG SIGH*) But I digress.

So, is the shooting star show for one night only, or will it continue on the 19th? I needed an excuse to get out of the house anyway, so I'm thinking about taking the old RV out to the Davis mountains, maybe Balmorea State Park. But it'll take me two days to get there, 'cause that's a long way from here. Hell, the Davis mountains are a long way from ANYWHERE!


-- Lon Frank (, November 12, 2001.

Lon, sweetie,

Click on the link that lars so generously has all the info you'll need :)

Oh...the sweetie thingee????...I pick #1 on your thread "Whad't I Say"..Heh! ;)

-- Peg (click d@ li.nk), November 12, 2001.

Oh, Peg, say it ain't so.....#1!!!!! (have you ever seen anybody drowned in a bucket of warm spit?)

And do you mean, that blue, underlined word "Leonid" at the top of the thread? Yeah, I guess that would have been the smart thing to do, but I'm under a lot of stress lately, what with this voting and spitting thing. Besides, I wouldn' t have got to talk to helen about mud rasslin'.


-- Lon Frank (, November 12, 2001.

But it'll take me two days to get there

Way I see YOUR situation currently, Lon, you could enlist for two YEARS and not be missed. Today's only the 12th. You have MORE than two days to get there, and more than a few days to enjoy the mountains and reflect. even have enough time to write some of that beautiful prose of which you're so famous, only directing it to the woman in your life [as in one of the THEY that like those steamy romance stories.]

-- Anita (, November 12, 2001.

OK..It's decided...Lon's punishment should be to write a "steamy prose/romance story" of Scottish ancestery...I'll be looking foward to it, Lon. My husband is an American/Scott descendant of the McLeod Clan (pronounced McCloud) from the highlands of Scottland, the Isle of Skye...

Warm spit is only good for one thing..LOL!! :)

-- Peg (, November 12, 2001.

well, I can see you ladies are determined not to talk about meteors. So, I might as well confess. I left a little note on the pillow, and it made all the difference. (she's so easy):

I close my eyes and see

your face every time weíve made love.

I walk out in the morning

and remember the way you smelled

the day you came to me.

The summer wind

recalls every caress and

your voice hides in the music of

spring rain.

Youíve had me forever, you know;

just close your eyes


-- Lon Frank (, November 12, 2001.

See how easy that was, Lon? I don't have your gift for writing, but I DO have a keen ability to ignore things and laugh. I casually mentioned in an E-mail to SO that Ingrid had left her snake at our house and [knowing that he doesn't like anything associated with creepy], I ignored for DAYS the queries snuck into E-mails on other subjects. Finally, he out and out asked me: "Where are you going to put this snake?" I replied, "Well, on YOUR side of the bed, Honey. Where else?" After saying THAT, he was comforted to find that the snake actually has a tank in my office.

-- Anita (, November 12, 2001.

you're forgiven...



If I can roust my butt outta bed early enough the morning of Nov. 18th and we have clear skies...I will be watching the meteor show/er with rapt awe.

-- Peg (I would kill to h@ve a note on my pillow. like that), November 12, 2001.

Peg: I'd kill IF I got one of those notes on my pillow. SO's brain doesn't function any better than mine, and if it ever does, I'd start to worry. The love letters *I* get say things like, "I love you as surely as the sun rises in the West and sets in the East."

-- Anita (, November 12, 2001.

Lon, that note would have worked on me, too. Does that mean I'm easy? ;)

-- Pammy (I'm@easy.without a note), November 12, 2001.

There just aren't enough romantic males.

I hope the sky is halfway clear here on the 18th. I want to see the Leonids!!!!!

I write to my sweetie all the time...

Romantic retriever.... (yeah, she asks/tells, I go get it...)

scratchin' an itch...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 12, 2001.


You got love letters?


I married a barbarian that drools alot..snicka ;)!

-- Peg (wink @ wink. snicka), November 12, 2001.

"Does that mean I'm easy?"

Pammy, you're kidding, right?



-- Lon Frank (, November 12, 2001.

BTW, Balmorea is an ancient spring just to the east of the rugged peaks of the Davis mountains in far west Texas, near the Big Bend country. I will reprint an old "snapshot" of mine, just in case anyone is interested in tagging along:



In the uncounted days before man, the waters rested here. A great shallow sea reached up into what is now called New Mexico, itís warmth the birthplace and burial ground to myriad creatures along the pathways of earthly genesis.

The leviathans which ruled the waters are gone now, with sparse evidence of their existence to excite the persistent fossil scholar. On the other end of the prehistoric food chain, the tiniest of organisms went about their daily struggle and desperately clung to one another in unthinking cellular passions, creating enduring monuments to their minuscule existence.

But the waters were called away in those days to fill the Pangeaic void of ever-shifting tectonic plates. As the eons turned the ocean bottom into high desert, the conglomerations of tiny bodies were lifted to the blue-black and tormented skies, and what was once the greatest barrier reef in the world slowly became the ragged and purple crags now known as the Guadalupe mountains.

As the great terrace was lifted up from below, torrents fell from above and the limestone bones gave way to great caverns; the celebrated Carlsbad, the private ecstasies of Blackís and Cottonwood caves.

And the young mountains were worn down, disjointed by time. Eventually, men came here, following the streams and the larder of furred animals. They brought precious little but knowledge of soil and spirits, and left even less in their passing; the ocher potsherd, the chipped flint point, the campfire ring by an ancient mountain seep.

Other men soon followed. Men with languages still remembered. It was only with these languages that they could subdue the vast dryness of cactus and sage. Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan in the north anchor a bleached and straggling landscape of mesas and spires which men called by their habit of mingling honor and nightmare. The Guadalupe mountains fade into the Delaware and Sierra Diablo. Marching south for three hundred desolate miles, the names continue out of history; Apache, Baylor, Van Horn and Davis. Devil Ridge melds with Sierra Vieja, and becomes Cuesta del Burro and Chinati as they skirt the Rio Grande.

The night skies are still troubled here when the wet winds of Baja blow up across Mexico, rattling through the copper canyons below the great river. The occasional thunderstorm gives life to the ocotillo and purple sage, and just as often passes over to crash itís bounty into the loftier mountains of pine and spruce, far to the north. On such a night, the touchable stars dance and move to a cosmic choreography first recorded on stony cliff walls by the pottery makers. Records which include mystic and mysterious figures of unknown creatures. Records, some say, of long ago visitors from beyond the canopy of blue.


-- Lon Frank (, November 12, 2001.

Lon, who told? ;)

Retrievers are nice and soft. Roll over and let me rub your tummy. :)

-- Pammy (Peg@not.all drooling is bad :)), November 12, 2001.

Lon,'re killing me...the description is almost too beautiful to bear...

Jeeze...guess I'll hafta get my butt outta bed to watch this spectacular occurance...maybe I'll drag my ol' butt down to the 7-11 that's only one block away...think I'll order some coffee and toast, hey, ya think?...Nah..

-- Peg ('re right...I @ only got pregnant. twice), November 12, 2001.

Lon, you need to be in place somewhere away from city lights on the 18th for the best show. You don't really have to go a long way away to see them well. Any place out in the country in a clearing would do.

I've never wrassled a martian in or out of mud...sounds interesting. Do you suppose JBT is a martian...?

-- helen (, November 12, 2001.

You got love letters?

Of course, Peg [humorous as they are]. I'm not married, ya know. When SO asked me to marry him, I said, "Let's live together first for 25 years or so and think about that THEN." We still have about 11 years to go on that 25. Of course with the laws the way they are, it wouldn't benefit us to marry, and I doubt that those laws will change in the next 11 years, so those love letters damn well better keep coming.

-- Anita (, November 12, 2001.

You're on to me Helen. I'm just a Stranger in a Strange Land (especially when I check out TB2K!). Probably not as sweet and lovable as Michel Valentine Smith but just as out of place.

BTW, with all this proclaiming of virtue and moral superiority you would not make it as a secretary for old Jubal.


-- Jack Booted Thug (, November 12, 2001.

There is that "Stranger in a Strange Land" taint again. Lon you have to get out to the desert to see the meteors. Last time they we awesome... At least if I can't go see them, you need to see them in my place, and then write about the experience.

Where I was last time is this bluff out in the middle of everywhere, Albuquerque slightly glowing in the distance. The sky was deep gun metal blue and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Little or no wind, the fragrance of the desert tickled all your senses. It truly was a spiritual experience. Then the show began... streaks of golden, and white fire, better than any fireworks display, and they just kept coming... sparks of the universe.

Lon, as Nike would say, "just do it"...

Scannin' the night sky...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 12, 2001.

Lon, that was very nice. I didn't know there was an El Capitan in Texas? I'm familiar with the one in California. Maybe they are all over?

-- Pammy (, November 13, 2001.


Take blankets and be prepared to lie down. Your head will fall off your neck if you try to look up as long as you're going to want to.

Stranger in a Strange Land "taint"? Honey, it's through and through.

-- helen (self@appointed.keeper.of.da.fate), November 13, 2001.

And now for something completely article relating to the original theme of this thread: Leonids Meteor Shower to Light Up Sky


.c The Associated Press

(Nov. 14) - Brew some coffee. Unpack the lawn chairs. Astronomers predict this year's Leonids meteor display, expected to appear before dawn Sunday, will be a dazzler worth missing a little sleep.

"It's now or never," said Robert Naeye of the Astronomy Society of the Pacific. "Astronomers don't think we'll see another storm like this one until the year 2099. We will probably never see a better meteor shower in our lifetimes."

Every year scientists fly to places like the Gobi Desert or Canary Islands to watch the heavens rain fire for a few minutes in November. This year, Earth's alignment suggests that North America will be squarely beneath some of the most vigorous shooting stars. Pacific Islands and the Far East may see natural fireworks, too.

The most optimistic celestial forecasts call for a steady storm of 4,000 meteors per hour, or about 70 per minute around 5 a.m. EST Sunday. With clear skies, luck and the bonus of a nearly moonless night, people in some locations could see twice that.

The Leonids are dust particles shed by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Like a truck barreling down a dirt road, the comet trails a cloud of dust as it orbits the sun once every 33 years.

The meteors are called Leonids because they appear to radiate from the constellation Leo, the Lion. A really big meteor is equal to a grain of rice.

Earth usually crosses a thin section of the Leonids trail; perhaps 10 meteors per hour streak across the night sky.

When the comet sweeps close to the sun, the sun's heat causes it to shed more debris like a truck hitting a mud puddle. Earth gets splattered when it plows though the thick wake. It occurs every November for a few years until the particles dissipate.

In 1966, observers couldn't count the shooting stars fast enough. Estimates ranged as high as 150,000 per hour.

Comet Tempel-Tuttle most recently passed close to the sun in February 1998, and since then, in the words of forecaster Joe Rao, the Leonids have "gone berserk."

While meteor displays thrill amateur stargazers, they also hold scientific promise. Comets are hurtling balls of ice and debris left over from the birth of the solar system more than 4 billion years ago.

The particles contain basic elements like iron, as well as carbon- based molecules. Some scientists believe this is how Earth was seeded with organic compounds.

The chemical precursors to life - found in comet dust - may well have survived a plunge into early Earth's atmosphere," said NASA scientist Peter Jenniskens, who directs airborne surveys of the Leonids.

Earthbound viewers are safe during a meteor shower because the tiny particles tend to burn miles from Earth. In fact, the visible meteor actually is the streak of light caused by the particle, or meteoroid, that is generating friction against the atmosphere.

But in space, the tiniest debris behaves like a speeding bullet. Satellite operators are turning their orbiting equipment edge-on into the storm so delicate sensors and solar energy arrays will not be crippled by the barrage.

Predicting the Leonids' vigor has become an annual competition. Previously educated guesswork meteor predictions are now the products of sophisticated computer models, enabling scientists to nail the storm peaks within a few minutes. This year, the Earth will pass through multiple debris trails shed by the comet as long ago as 1699.

"The comet is almost 4 years behind us now," said Rao, who handicaps the Leonids for Sky & Telescope magazine and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. "The predictions are all over the place."

Tom Van Flandern of Meta Research in Chevy Chase, Md., a non-profit astronomy group, predicts "no fewer than five streams will pass close to the Earth, so that weak (meteor) storms may persist for several hours before the predicted strong one arrives."

How strong? Jenniskens is the most optimistic forecaster. He predicts the Leonids will peak at 4,200 per hour at 5:09 a.m. Sunday over the East Coast, 2:09 a.m. over the West Coast. Others predict a peak of 1,300 to 2,000 per hour.

Predictions elsewhere vary as widely. One group expects a bigger storm eight hours later over the Far East; William Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center predicts no more than 800 meteors per hour over the Far East.

With so much uncertainty, most U.S. meteor chasers have decided to stay home this year. Circumstances following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have affected some plans; airspace restrictions probably will ground Jenniskens' airborne mission.

Naeye is joining an astronomers gathering at the Kitt Peak observatory in southern Arizona, where the skies should be dark and the weather dry.

"The U.S. will get a pretty good show," Naeye said. "Everything is lining up just right."


(Sorry, I gotst no URL - Big Turtle)

-- Rich (, November 15, 2001.

Thursday November 15 09:07 AM EST

Defying Prediction: What You Can Really Expect From the 2001 Leonid Shower

By Robert Roy Britt Senior Science Writer,

This weekend, NASA (news - web sites) meteor scientist and forecaster Bill Cooke will be in Hawaii, where he thinks the 2001 version of the Leonid Meteor shower will put on its best show -- a full-fledged storm of shooting stars. Cooke has been studying these things for years, and he's predicting a peak hourly rate of 1,400 meteors for 3 a.m. local time Sunday morning.

"I'm ready to put my money where my mouth is," Cooke said in a recent interview.

Almost no one is following Bill Cooke to Hawaii.

A lot of people are paying attention to researchers Rob McNaught of the Australian National University and David Asher of the Armagh Observatory. They have been saying for months that two peaks would occur, one of 2,500 meteors per hour over North America, and another of 15,000 over Australia. Last month, however, they revised their forecasts downward, to 800 and 8,000, respectively.

Peter Jenniskens, of NASA's Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, has been prognosticating meteor showers in recent years, too. He published an updated forecast just weeks ago, calling for a peak hourly rate over North America of 4,200 shooting stars -- more than one every second.

Then there's Markku Nissinen, Tom Van Flandern and Finnish researcher Esko Lyytinen, who predict a peak of 2,000 per hour for North America.

It's a good thing these guys aren't trying to pin down whether and where the next hurricane will strike.

Why so different?

In all fairness, the wildly disparate forecasts made by these four respected research groups are rooted in a known, but little-understood scientific phenomenon: The space dust that causes the Leonid meteor shower spreads out more and more every year.

The dust -- mostly particles no larger than sand grains -- is the exhaust of comet Tempel-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 33 years.

On each pass, fresh material is boiled off the comet's core by the Sun. And because the comet's orbital path is constantly changing by a small amount, each dust trail is in a slightly different location. Some of the dust Earth will encounter this weekend has been floating through space since before the United States was a country.

Cooke thinks of each trail as a river. As Earth wades through a dust stream, it is shallow at the edges -- less dust. The river is deepest -- containing the highest concentration of dust -- in the middle.

Exactly why the dust moves, and by how much, is what vexes the scientists.

Larger particles are nudged into new paths by the gravity of the Sun, Earth and the other planets, Cooke explained. Smaller bits are less affected by gravity, but they are bullied around somewhat by the pressure of solar radiation -- charged particles that rush constantly outward from the Sun.

History as a guide

One of the most dramatic Leonid showers in history, which occurred in 1833, involved a pass through a dust trail laid down roughly 100 years earlier. The dust was concentrated into a relatively narrow stream, researchers suspect. Some of the 2001 forecasts are based in part on what happened in 1833.

There is no firmly established rate of spreading to factor in, however, and the planet will plunge through at least three dust streams this weekend -- from 1866, 1767 and 1699.

The North American peak will be related to the 1767 stream. The result will almost certainly be something less than what occurred in 1833, when people witnessed a storm of meteors -- one observer in Boston reportedly saw more than 8,000 meteors in just 15 minutes.

For scientists, an hourly rate of 1,000 shooting stars qualifies a meteor shower to be called a "storm."

With all their adjustments in place, each research group now thinks it's got 2001 figured out.

The differences in their methods are subtle. Jenniskens told that his work is based in part on observations of the 1999 and 2000 Leonids from aircraft. He expects that Earth will pass closer to the middle, densest part of the stream than do the other forecasting teams.

Asher and McNaught have looked at historical accounts of meteor showers going back to 1833. Their recent downward revision was based on the inclusion of an "aging parameter," developed by Esko Lyytinen's team, which accounts for how solar radiation might disperse the dust.

Asher said the large uncertainties still associated with meteor forecasting mean that no one knows exactly what's coming Sunday morning. "The estimates of meteor rates by ourselves, by Lyytinen, by Jenniskens, and even our 'old' model, are all within the bounds of possibility," he said.

Cooke, whose expectations are the most modest, thinks the other groups are too optimistic in their calculations of how much dust will be left in the center of a "river" that has been flowing through space for centuries. He said meteor data from the 1833 showers and other historical sources are likely inaccurate, being drawn from nothing more than old newspaper accounts.

So Cooke's calculations are based only on what has been observed each November since 1966.

Yet even Cooke has hedged his bet. Before he left for Hawaii, he coordinated with researchers from NASA and elsewhere, setting up groups that will fan out to New Mexico, Guam and the Gobi desert in Mongolia. Each will train a couple of video cameras on the sky to record shooting stars for later research, in an effort to improve future predictions.

What about the rest of us?

But for those of us who can't fan out, what's the best advice?

For that answer, we turned to Joe Rao, who has written several scientific papers and popular articles about meteor showers. Like many American scientists who've been monitoring the changing forecasts and making travel plans, Rao told us he'll be watching the Leonids from the Southwest.

And what does Rao expect to see?

Rao is familiar with difficult forecasting challenges. He's also a meteorologist, dealing nightly with Mother Nature's whims for viewers of News 12 in Westchester, New York. And he is clearly more comfortable predicting the weather.

But he can't resist throwing his hat into the Leonids forecasting ring. He does so conservatively, recalling that past Leonid meteor showers have produced fewer shooting stars than expected.

He said the forecasts of Esko Lyytinen and his colleagues have been the most consistent over the past couple of years. But even those have been off by a factor of two.

"If pressed for a prediction of rates for the Leonids over North America, I'd suggest 1,000 to 1,200 per hour," he said, though he added that it could go as low as 800.

Either way, that's more than 13 every minute. One every few seconds. An event of a lifetime for anyone lucky enough to see it.

SPECIAL REPORT: How to watch and photograph the Leonids, plus a forecast for 30 U.S. cities

Visit for more space-related news including videos, launch coverage and interactive experiences. Check out our huge collection of Image Galleries and Satellite Views from Space. Follow the latest developments in the search for life in our universe in our SETI: Search for Life section. Sign up for our free daily email newsletter today!

-- seeker (searching@low.and.high), November 15, 2001.

East coasters, you should start seeing them now. Please let us know how intense it is.

-- (keep@us.posted), November 17, 2001.

Reporting from eastern Mass. a little late, but hey, the board was down ;)

Watched from about 4:45 to 5:45 (it started getting light) and saw the most beautiful show I've ever seen. Even though most of the meteors were short lived lasting only a second or so, it was worth getting up at 4:30 on a Sunday morning..(did I really write!

A lot of them came straight down like you would see from a fireworks display, but again short lived. Some that shot straight across the sky appeared to be red in color and the white ones would leave a slight streak.

It was worth freezing by butt off and breaking my neck!!! ;)

-- Peg (head now @ permanently. tilted upward), November 19, 2001.

Peg's new Indian name: "Woman-With-Crooked-Neck" ;)

Saw the meteor shower here, too. Fog was moving in, but it was spectacular.

-- Pammy (, November 19, 2001.

I'll echo Peg's sentiments: Spectacular!

My brother, two neighbors and I braved the mid-30's temperatures and damn was it worth it!

There's a ton of light pollution here in northern NJ. There's an old quarry not a mile from the house. It's up on a hill, offers protection from street and house lights and somewhat of a buffer to the glow of NYC. That's where we went. Hopped a fence, hiked a hundred yards uphill and set up camp about 4:30am.

I've seen a bunch of Leonid and Perseid showers and this was by far the best. I'd estimate they fell at a rate of between 200-300 per hour, maybe a little higher. We set up our chairs looking due north. Most were sighted between Orion's Belt in the west and the Big Dipper in the east northeast. As Peg mentioned, a good deal of them fell straigh down perpendicular with the horizon, which is unusual in my experiences watching these magical events.

One large meteor actually exploded, giving off blue/white light. Several instances of three at a time sightings, with packs of half a dozen in a 2-3 second period common.

-- Rich (, November 19, 2001.

They were absolutely stunning in the bowl shaped canyon I went to in the coastal range of OR. The sky still wasn't as dark as it is in NM however... Beautiful...

Lookin' up...

The Dog

-- The Dog (, November 19, 2001.

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