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Space Science

Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Early Tuesday Morning 87

GringoChapin writes in with coverage from on the Leonid meteor shower, adding "Folks from the United States will want to start watching at 0100 Pacific, 0400 Eastern, and those in Europe from 0100 local time until dawn." "One of the best annual meteor showers will peak in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, and for some skywatchers the show could be quite impressive. The best seats are in Asia, but North American observers should be treated to an above average performance of the Leonid meteor shower, weather permitting." Sky and Telescope's coverage is excellent as usual, and they also have tips for beginning and advanced meteor observers.
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Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Early Tuesday Morning

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  • by Eudial ( 590661 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:17PM (#30124100)

    Not only is it overcast, it's FOGGY and rainy as well. And that's the forecast for the entire week. Damn you britain, your weather has escaped and is wrecking havoc in Sweden.

    • With a little bit of more luck you will get one crash through the roof of your house and get the rain *into* your living room :)
    • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:34PM (#30124278)

      I have to spend the whole night about 9,300 feet up, on the side of Mauna Kea.

      Hmm, I think I'll take my cameras. And spare batteries. :)

      Sorry, wet Swedes.

    • by E IS mC(Square) ( 721736 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:38PM (#30124314) Journal
      Well, at least you still have a sky, and a chance to see meteors when weather permits. With the light pollution around NY/NJ in the USA, you can't see one until it's about to explode on you.

      I was amazed to see how many stars you can see with your naked eyes when I visited the 'dark' continent of Africa few years back.
      • Or you can leave the Trashheap State and the city behind and drive a few hours to Upstate or CNY :p. Not quite as good for stargazing as the dark heart of Africa or whatever, but there are still parts of the state you can see the stars from :).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Kratisto ( 1080113 )
          There's so much light pollution in populated areas [] that you can hardly see anything unless you drive into the middle of the desert. It bothers me when I look up and can barely make out Orion to think that in some places you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. Letting less light escape upward and outward where it's unneeded would have positive environmental effects (some animals are led astray by the light), and would conserve energy, but my reasons for wanting darker cities (or rather, darker city s
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Cimexus ( 1355033 )

            I have to admit, the first time I visited the US I was shocked. Your night sky in the cities is like a milky hazy grey colour. Not black. Not dark. Can only see the brightest stars.

            From the middle of my hometown (Canberra, Australia, population 340,000), you can EASILY see the Milky Way with the naked eye at night. Yet even in towns a quarter the size of that in the US, you can't see Jack. (To be specific, I remember that in Green Bay, WI, population 98,000, I could see only like 10 stars at night!). This a

            • Here in the U.S., we have this thing called "crime". For some reason is seems to occur in dimly lit places so to help counter-act this phenomena, we crank up the lights to eleven (although, statistics will show that most crimes happen in broad daylight, so go figure that). Ahhhh. America: The Paranoid...
          • It is pretty amazing how far you have to drive into the desert to get away from the lights. Just ask anybody who has driven towards Las Vegas at night. I have been able to see the glow from over 100 miles away when conditions are right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sayfawa ( 1099071 )
        I was amazed to see how many stars you can see with your naked eyes when I visited the 'dark' continent of Africa few years back.

        Several years ago I was on a bus at night in the middle of Tanzania. At one point I found myself looking up into the sky at some large puffy black things. It took me several moments to realize that they were clouds, and they were blocking the starlight. I was so used to clouds being *brighter* than the rest of the sky due to reflected light from the city, not darker.
    • Illinois Too []

      • by rnturn ( 11092 )

        I cannot recall any astronomical events being visible from the Chicago area in recent years. Shuttle flyovers? Not a chance. Lunar eclipses? You must be joking. It is always hazy or cloudy when anything interesting is going on. In fact, I'm sure that, aside from the freak Northern lights show we had a few years ago, the only other notable astronomical shows we've been lucky enough to see was when a couple of comets passed by back in the late '90s. This area is just awful for seeing anything.

        A clear night

    • by sznupi ( 719324 )

      Perseids are a bit more friendly in this regard. And shouldn't you be more bothered about the temperature anyway? I'm across the Baltic, probably around 1500 km to the south, and even here it's frakking cold, especially when somebody wants to look at meteor shower (which to me also means mostly stationary, on open space, without many obstructions for the wind...)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume ( 22995 )

      You are not terribly alone: []

    • by tot ( 30740 )
      If you have Google Sky Map in your phone, can't use use that?
  • Damn! 4 in the morning is tough. Maybe I'll do it anyway.
  • Vulcans (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smivs ( 1197859 ) <> on Monday November 16, 2009 @08:18PM (#30124128) Homepage Journal

    Watch out for the ones with pointy ears. They're Leonid Nimoys!

  • Guess I better find my catcher's mitt on the off chance that the universe throws me a diamond in the rough.
  • FTA:

    Bring a reclining lawn chair to a dark site with an open view of the sky. No trees or buildings should intrude into your view except maybe at the very edges. Depending on the time of the year you may want to bring a sleeping bag for protection against cold, dew, and mosquitoes.

    ...also, remember to use the bathroom before you get on the short-bus

  • I'm pretty excited. I did happen to see the Leonids back in 1998/1999 when they, according to professional space geeks, the best showing they could remember, and have watched annually ever since. If anything, these are the types of events that at least gets my children actively interested in the super unknown in the sky. However, it's not easy trying to make 50 'falling star' wishes come true for your kids either... that's if they make it to 0400 for the Leonids. The Persied's were much more time friend
  • It is 01:57 in Germany *right now*. So is it today?

    By the way. "Europe" has more than one time zone! So this is completely useless. What is the time in my *country*?

    • by mrdogi ( 82975 )

      Unable to translate time zones?

      Fine. I did a Google search for time zones. Took the first link it returned []
      Sorted by country. Berlin, DE is currently at 2:09 AM. New York is currently at 8:09 PM. So, 6 hours difference. Add 6 hours to NY's 04:00, you get 10:00 AM. Or, get your but out there NOW!

    • By the way. My "*country*" has more than one time zone! So any speculative answer to your question (properly transfigured to answer it for *my* country, or for one assumed to both be *yours* and have more than one time zone) is completely useless. What is the time in my *time zone*?

      You're either an idiot who can't figure out time zones (a sad state of affairs), or you just wanted to make a point about ambiguity in the article's various references to time (a good point to make).

      If you're trying to make a

      • Re:What DAY? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @10:01PM (#30124896)

        You're either an idiot who can't figure out time zones (a sad state of affairs), or you just wanted to make a point about ambiguity in the article's various references to time (a good point to make).

        Actually could be both... or maybe he's just short on the reading comprehension, since there was *nothing* ambiguous about it ("0100 Pacific, 0400 Eastern, and those in Europe from 0100 local time until dawn"). Then again, that makes your point mostly useless as well, besides the point that his point is useless ;)

        • So the peak started in Europe at 01:00, 02:00 and 03:00 UTC?
          • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

            No, the peak started at 01:00 Pacific time aka 04:00 Eastern time aka 09:00 UTC.

            But trying to watch a meteor shower sometime between 9am and noon in Europe would be pretty futile, so they are telling people just to try it from 1am to dawn local time as their best bet. I don't know why so many people can't understand this...

        • Uh, the article was ambiguous.
          Europe is pretty big you know.

          I doubt "from 0100 local time until dawn" would accurately apply to Scotland as well as eastern Russia.

          • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

            It may have been somewhat hard to understand, but if you actually read it carefully, it was in no way ambiguous.

            The best time was in fact at 0900 UTC, but of course that pesky sun will make it a bit difficult when 0900 UTC is between 9am and noon local time, hence the suggestion to look "from 0100 local time until dawn" - dawn being pretty much the end of useful meteor watching for the night. Duh.

            • Uh, try reading the WHOLE article instead of quoting one sentence fragment out of context.
              It's ambiguous as another poster pointed out.

              • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

                Not sure why I am still bothering, but...


                Earth will pass through one of the denser debris streams at around 4 a.m. EST (1 a.m. PST) Tuesday. If you have only an hour or less to watch, center it around this time. Leo will be high in the sky for East Coast skywatchers, putting more meteors into view. In the West, Leo will be low in the eastern sky at this time, so fewer shooting stars will be above the horizon, and therefore Western skywatchers shoul

    • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      It is 01:57 in Germany *right now*. So is it today?

      By the way. "Europe" has more than one time zone! So this is completely useless. What is the time in my *country*?

      From the valuable information you provided, I will hazard to guess that it is (was) 01:57 in your country...

      And from the (fairly clear, IMO) instructions in the summary - "and those in Europe from 0100 local time until dawn" - the answer is yes, it is not only "today", it is *right now*...

      Basically, they are telling you "no, you won't get a very

  • by Blue Shifted ( 1078715 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:06PM (#30124536) Journal

    i know it sounds funny, but through the years i've found many women who are interested in watching the meteor showers with me. when i used to hang with groups of friends in san diego, i'd inform all of them about an upcoming meteor shower and invite them to go with me to a mountain (usually palomar) to watch. and more often than not, more women would come with me than men.

    and then i would answer all their questions about meteors; how fast they go, how big are they, where do they come from, the comets they are associated with, why they are named after constellations, etc. And of course i'd tell them scary stories about how Betelgeuse could kill all life on earth, and show them the BEAUTIFUL Pleiades through binoculars, and before you know it, they were looking at me in a whole new light, and hey, geeks were cool!

    i'm old and have a girlfriend now, and she loves meteor showers too, so i don't promote the showers with the single girls anymore, but just thought i'd throw this out there for my fellow slashdotters... Invite that girl you like to watch the show, she will probably like it!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      also, bring a blanket, cause when it's cold, you might just have to share it!

      • by laejoh ( 648921 )
        Bring a towel, it's more useful. A towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have 'lost'. What th
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @09:30PM (#30124712)

      Your suggestion involves A. Knowing women, and B. Going out of the house.

      • Get with the times. With a webcam mounted on a RC miniature car, it's easy to do stuff up to 300m away from the house these days. Just don't forget to tell the girl to tilt up the camera when it gets interesting!
        • by vlm ( 69642 )

          Just don't forget to tell the girl to tilt up the camera when it gets interesting!

          And wear a skirt?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't need that bullshit. Women are impressed by my penis.
      • so instead of talking to a girl or using your looks, your only option is to drop trow whenever you enter a room?
    • Bubble tea at local coffee shop: $3.
      Tip for the smart and stunningly beautiful girl working there: $1.
      Gas to drive out to the lake outside of town: $.50.
      Getting said smart and beautiful girl from the coffee shop to come lay on the roof of my station wagon to watch the Perseid meteor shower with me after she got off work: Priceless.

      Best evening of the year.

  • ...will want to roll over and yawn at 0100. I was into astronomy when I was younger, and saw plenty of meteors. It's fun if you go to a dark site on a warm night (one of the best meteor outings ever was Perseids in August, in Virginia), but no way am I trekking out into the California desert, or even the nearby hills at 0100. No. Older now. Dare I say it? Get off my lawn! Also, If you've seen one meteor, you've!%!#$% NO CARRIER

  • Timezones (Score:2, Informative)

    by AniVisual ( 1373773 )

    For the people who prefer to calculate using timezone offsets, the time is 0900 UTC, as reported by NASA [].

    Since I live in Singapore, with geographical time +0700, the meteor showers appear at 1600, which means I get to see nothing at all. However, NASA also reports another wave at 2100-2200 UTC which means that I get to watch 'em at 0400 tomorrow. (1400 PST Tuesday aftn.)

  • Earthcrossers around the world, rejoice! And don't forget your helmets and baseball gloves!
  • by btempleton ( 149110 ) on Monday November 16, 2009 @11:43PM (#30125516) Homepage

    There's been a lot of press on this shower, and I think it's been very misleading. The predictions say there will be no special show in North America. The special show (only mildly special) will be only visible in Asia, at 21:40 UT and about an hour around that. Only if it is after midnight at 22 UT is it worth looking for this shower. Outside of that, ie. in NA, you will see a quite mild show, the kind you can see every year from several showers including the Perseids which take place on warm August nights.

    This one has a new moon, which is indeed what you want for a shower but that is all it has. Expect to see one meteor every few minutes if you are doing well.

    Even the Asian shower will be minor compared to the big showers of 98-02. And they were minor compared to the mega-storm of 1966. This will be nothing like that. Meteor showers can be fun, but I fear all the press on this one will disappoint people for being misled.

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      but I fear all the press on this one will disappoint people for being misled.

      Most people are used to the press misleading them, it'll be OK.

    • by freg ( 859413 )
      It's important to stress that this is a 33 year cycle meteor shower. I wasn't around for 1966 but the 1998 shower was probably the biggest of meteor shower of my lifetime (since 1980) thus far. As a poster above suggested I just invited a few college friends and went to the remotest part of KY we could get to by a lake, built a fire (let it die down to avoid light pollution) and waited. We counted around 350 meteors that night in a little over 3 hours with 5 or so spectacular fire balls. It's a night no
  • Only saw two streaks in 15m starting at 01:40 in a clear sky with no discernible ground light. YMMV (Your Meteors May Vary).

    • The only clouds were on the horizon. Went out at 4 AM, saw two almost immediately and four more in the next 45 minutes, one of which left a short trail!

      I'm in the far outer suburbs of Boston, so lots of light pollution (including my damn neighbor's porch lights!) but plenty of stars out and a cool (36F), clear morning, with no wind. Very pleasant viewing. I played with my digital camera, got a nice shot of Orion, but didn't get any meteor photos.

  • Zero in 30 minutes, clear sky, Mpls, MN. 5AM-5:30AM CST.

  • The Good:
    I saw 5 rocks burn up on entry.
    I smoked two really good cigars.
    I had a really nice French Roast.
    I had a really good Cabernet Franc.

    The Bad:
    I got hit up for money by bums.

  • Or at least a suburb about 45 minutes straight North of Chicago, anyway, it was overcast right up until about an hour before the storm, then the clouds magically parted and there were just a few left at the horizons. Viewing was damn cold but good - I went out for 2x 10 minute periods and saw a nice one each time I went out. This is the first time good weather and a new moon have made viewing possible in the Chicago area in quite a while, it's almost always overcast when the Persids or Leonids come. Yay!

  • ...when even meteor showers are moving to China!

    We're predicting 20 to 30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as many as 200 to 300 per hour over Asia

  • Apparently the editors assume people read Slashdot all day long. I caught this at 1000 CST on the 17th (it was posted at around 1800 on the 16th)--long after it was of any interest. A day or two ahead of time would be more useful.
    • The Slashdot editors (and/or submitters) - and the news media, who do the same thing - apparently also assume we have no advance plans and can just drop everything and go watch the sky on a couple hour's notice.

      I do wish BOTH would mention the meteor showers a week or so in advance.

  • Clear skies in the Sierra Nevada foothills, away from town (ie, where I live :)) - I saw a few nice trails, but it's pretty clear that North America was on the wrong side of the globe for this one.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban