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Led by K.C. Lobrecht who arrived at the beginning of the week long Astrofest known as "Okie-Tex" (located at the end of Oklahoma's Panhandle) a rather large contingent of ACT members and friends converged on the lonely outpost of Kenton, OK for a week of excellent weather and viewing. Chris Brown who teaches Astronomy at TCC brought his entourage of students and fans swelling the Tulsa contingent to perhaps 30 people. Hugh and Peggy Selman brought their beautiful motor home. Campers included Gary Buckmaster, Blake Chamlin, Rod and Jenny Gallager, John Land, James Liley, Howard Minor, Denny and Barb Mishler, Dean Salman, and Jay Tiner.
Okie-Tex may be the best Star Party I've attended. Stellafane in Springfield, Vermont is the grand daddy of Star parties and attracts 2000 fans. But it lasts only 2 nights and the skies are not comparable to the black skies of Oklahoma's Black Mesa territory. The Texas Star party is a good one but the skies aren't quite as good and it can get hot and dusty when it is held in May. Located 430 miles west of Tulsa with all the driving in Oklahoma, Okie-Tex gets my vote and if you stay for the final night you are quite likely to win a nice door prize too!
Denny Mishler, Club vice President
by David Stine
Where will you be on November 18, 2001 in the early morning hours? If you say probably home asleep, that is the wrong answer and you could be very sorry. So what happens on that morning you say? Possibly the greatest meteor storm that our lifetime has seen with the exception of 1966. If the forecasters are correct like they have been the past two years we may witness a meteor almost every second during the peak hour. More than a person could even try to see. They would be coming from all over the sky. Lets take a look at the storm forecast from several well known meteor experts, but first of all for you new to astronomy, let me brief you on this particular occurrence.
Each year at about the same time in November we have what is called, a meteor shower, or as some people call them falling stars. Meteors are not stars and it's a good thing they aren't or we would be in trouble. What you see as a streak across the heavens is merely a very small grain from the debris given off from a comets past passage. This particular comet is Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. This debris remains in roughly the same path that the comet takes around the sun. Now when this debris is past through by Earth, we have a meteor shower. This shower seems to have meteors streaking out of the constellation Leo and that is where its name comes from, Leonid Meteor Shower. Most of the time the shower is very weak, maybe 10 meteors an hour at its best, but then there are times every 30-35 years that the shower comes alive and it is called a meteor storm. We are now in that time period. The last two years have produced outstanding storms in other parts of the world. This year and 2002 it's our turn. Why such outstanding storms every third of a century? The answer lies in the return of the comet. Comet Tempel-Tuttle reached perihelion in February 1998. The thickest areas of its debris have since been flowing through the same area that Earth crosses each November 17-18. Astronomers have recently been able to calculate the locations in space of individual dust trails. According to these individuals we are in for two more good years of storms before the Leonids go into hibernation. Who are these forecasters and what are they saying about this year?
Robert McNaught and David Asher predicted the 1999 storm to within 6 minutes. Asher also was the one who determined the cause of the fireball year in 1998 that many of us witnessed at the observatory. These particles came from the 1333 passage and were pulled close together by several passes near the planet Jupiter creating a concentration of particles in the broader stream. So what does McNaught and Asher predict for us this year? Asher is predicting a peak time of 10:01UT November 18 which would be 4:01a.m.CST. Leo would be very high in the East for an ideal shower. So what is he predicting for numbers? 2,000-2,500 an hour during this peak time. The dust particles we will be seeing are from the comets 1766 return, plus particles from the 1799 and 1833 passage. If this were to happen you would be seeing a meteor just about every second. Now that would be awesome. They also predict another peak at 17:31UT the 1699 passage, then another one at 18:19UT the 1866 trail. Of course it will be daylight in Tulsa for this one and we won't be able to see it. Asher predicts 9,000/hr for the first one and 15,000/hr for the next one. Being so close together will make for an enormous storm for people in Eastern Asia and Australia.
Our other experts Esko Lyytinen and Tom Van Flandern also predict between 2,000 and 2, 500 meteors but 30 minutes later at 10:28UT. Both models are leading to a major storm for observers in Tulsa and most of North America. But don't bet on it! We still are not at the stage where we can predict how broad the stream is or how stretched out it is. But it looks like we could be seeing more meteors than we have ever seen in our short time on Earth. The only thing that could prevent us from seeing this spectacle is the weather.
Come join us at the observatory the night of November 17 and the morning of the 18th to watch this awesome display in the heavens. Plan on an all night session. Again nothing is certain, but the odds are heavily in our favor for a storm.
What about 2002? Well if you can believe it, we get the peak again next year and oh what a peak. Predictions are for 30,000/hr at 10:36UT. North America will be the only place on earth to view this show. The only problem is the moon will almost be full, but 30,000 meteors under a full moon, I don't think that will hamper our view. Who can see that many meteors at one time? That's appx. 8 meteors a second. You would have to have eyes in the back of your head.
The next two years are going to be awesome and we are lucky to be right in the ballpark for the event. It all starts in a few days. Don't miss it.
COMET UPDATE; Comet C/2000 WM1 (Linear) continues to slowly brighten. By the night of the Leonid Shower it should be around Mg. 6.6 traveling through Perseus near the star Algol. If there is room in the newsletter there will be a plat of the comets path through November 20th. It will be high overhead on the night of the Leonid Storm, a preview bonus for everyone before the fireworks start.
That's it from my corner this month; hope to see everyone at the observatory Nov. 17-18 for possibly the greatest meteor shower we have seen yet.
1. Leonids - Event of the Year!...
What is this shower? The Leonids are a sight of a lifetime when they storm, and they are predicted to storm in large numbers this year. These meteors are debris from Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
i) The Parent Comet...
The comet was discovered on December 19th, 1865 by Ernst Wilhelm Liebrecht Tempel in Marseilles, France. Tempel was born in 1821 in Nieder-Kunersdorf, in Saxony. He trained as a lithographer, and took up astronomy as a side interest. When he moved to Venice, he purchased a 4 inch refractor, and started looking for comets from a balcony of a Venetian palace. He found his first in 1859, also the year in which he became the first observer to note the nebula around the star Merope in the Pleiades. In 1860, he moved to Marseilles, France, obtained employment at the observatory, and went on to discover 8 more comets, including the famous Tempel-Tuttle as we now know it. In 1871 he moved to Milan, Italy, taking a job as an assistant to Schiaparelli at the Brera Observatory. He discovered 3 more comets at Milan. In late 1874 he moved to Florence and the Arcetri Observatory, and using larger telescopes, found 1 more comet. In all, he was the first discoverer of 13 comets. Tempel died in 1889, and was buried near the tomb of Donati, whose name is also famous for comets.
Comet Tempel-Tuttle was also discovered by Horace Parnell Tuttle of Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on January 6th, 1866. Tuttle was an assistant astronomer at the Harvard College Observatory. He discovered his first comet in 1857, which turned out to be periodic Comet Brorsen. In 1858 he made a first discovery of Comet 1858 I, now called periodic Comet Tuttle. He went on to a total of 4 comet discoveries, and 9 co-discoveries. The most famous of these comets are 1862 III Swift-Tuttle, the parent of the Perseid meteors, and 1866 I Tempel-Tuttle, the parent of the Leonid meteors. In 1862, Tuttle left Harvard, served in the infantry in the American Civil War, then transferred to the navy. He served on the U.S.S. Catskill, an iron-clad ship engaged in the blockade of Charleston Harbor in South Carolina. By day he acted as paymaster... and by night he made observations of comets! After the navy, he worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, and helped define the boundary line between Wyoming and the Dakotas. Tuttle died in 1923 and was buried in an unmarked grave at the Oakwood Cemetery in Falls Church, Virginia.
ii) The Early Leonid Observations...
There are many old descriptions of the Leonid meteors, as they have been observed for over 1000 years, long before their cometary origin was known. In his book 'The Story of the Heavens' published in 1886, Sir Robert Ball wrote:
"On the 12th of October, in the year 902, occurred the death of a Moorish king, and in connection with this event an old chronicler relates how 'that night there were seen, as it were lances, an infinite number of stars, which scattered themselves like rain to right and left, and that year was called the Year of the Stars.'"
We now know, due to calendar allowances, that this referred to the Leonids, and is one of the first recorded instances of the shower.
November of 1833 sparked the current birth of meteor astronomy as we know it. A Leonid storm was widely observed in North America. Observations of the event led to Denison Olmsted's theorizing that the meteors had originated from a cloud of particles in space - and a specific radiant point for the meteors. Old records were looked at, and von Humboldt's observations of 1799 from South America discovered. The possibility of annual activity in November was realized. In 1837, Heinrich Olbers reported a period for the Leonids of about 33 or so years.
Hubert A. Newton examined many old records, and identified many years of Leonid activity. He predicted the next return 33 years later, in 1866, and a meteor storm occurred. Sir Robert Ball wrote:
"Such was the occurrence which astonished the world on the night between November 13th and 14th, 1866. The meteors were distinguished not only by their enormous multitude, but by their intrinsic magnificence. I shall never forget that night... I was engaged in my usual duty at that time of observing nebulae with Lord Rosse's great reflecting telescope... The late Earl of Rosse... joined me at the telescope, and, after a brief interval, we decided to cease our observations of the nebulae and ascend to the top of the wall of the great telescope... There, for the next two or three hours, we witnessed a spectacle which can never fade from my memory. The shooting stars gradually increased in number until sometimes several were seen at once... All of the tracks of the meteors radiated from Leo... Occasionally luminous trains would linger on for many minutes after the meteor had flashed across, but the great majority of the trains in this shower were evanescent. It would be impossible to say how many thousands of meteors were seen, each one of which was bright enough to have elicited a note of admiration on any ordinary night."
Giovanni Schiaparelli of Italy commented in a letter written in 1867 that Comet Tempel-Tuttle was probably related to the Leonid meteor stream. Camille Flammarion wrote that "for the swarm of shooting stars of November... Le Verrier has calculated that it entered for the first time into our system in the year 126 of our era, at a point near where the planet Uranus was then situated, and that it is this planet which has transformed the parabolic into an elliptic orbit. If the planet had not been there, the meteors would have continued their course".
iii) Observations This Century....
In 1933, no storm was observed.
In 1966, however, a brief storm was observed on November 17th over the central and western United States. Dennis Milon is quoted on http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov/history.html regarding the observations from Kitt Peak, Arizona:
"The meteors were so intense that we were guessing how many could be seen in a one-second sweep of the observers head."
A peak rate of about 40 meteors per second was reached at 5.54 a.m. local time. This works out to 2400 meteors per minute, or 144,000 meteors per hour!
In 1998, a surprise shower of fireballs was seen. A summary can be found at http://star.arm.ac.uk/~ambn/abstract309.html, from a paper by Asher, Bailey and Emel'yanenko titled 'Resonant meteoroids from Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1333: the cause of the unexpected Leonid outburst in 1998''. This unexpected bombardment of fireballs happened about 16 hours before the predicted peak of the Leonid shower! It must be remembered that, in spite of all kinds of predictions by professional researchers, that we still do not know everything about meteors! This is why it is so important to watch on a number of nights - from wherever you happen to be around the globe.
In 1999, a storm of Leonid activity was observed from western Asia, Europe, and Africa, with ZHR rates of about 3700 meteors per hour. Details are given in the IMO analysis at http://www.imo.net/articles/shower/leo99.html. The IMO states that the Leonid storm component had 'an unusual magnitude distribution with a lack of both very bright and very faint meteors'.
In 2000, rates were not as high. Three peaks were observed, but with ZHR rates only about 130, 290 and 480 meteors per hour respectively, as per the IMO analysis.
iv) Leading Up to Recent Analyses...
According to Gary Kronk on his "Comets and Meteor Showers" website:
"The most ambitious study of the relationship between Tempel-Tuttle and the Leonids was published in 1981. Donald K. Yeomans... mapped out the dust distribution surrounding Tempel-Tuttle by 'analyzing the associated Leonid meteor shower data over the 902-1969 interval'. He noted that most of the ejected dust lagged behind the comet and was outside its orbit... Yeomans suggested this indicated 'that radiation pressure and planetary perturbations, rather than ejection processes, control the dynamic evolution of the Leonid particles'. Concerning the occurrence of Leonid showers, Yeomans said 'significant Leonid meteor showers are possible roughly 2500 days before or after the parent comet reaches perihelion but only if the comet passes closer than 0.025 AU inside or 0.010 AU outside the Earth's orbit'. He added that optimum conditions will be present in 1998-1999, but that the lack of uniformity in the dust particle distribution still makes a prediction of the intensity of the event uncertain."
v) Predictions for This Year...
There are a number of models predicting the activity of the Leonid meteors this year. It will only be after the event has occurred that we will know which model best fits the activity seen! Hence it is really important for all observers to monitor the nights around November 17th and 18th and 19th - before the maximum, during the maximum, and after the maximum. Surprises can always occur. Consider the fireballs of 1998 - they arrived the night before anyone was expecting major Leonid activity!
According to the Armagh Observatory website - the predictions of Robert McNaught of Australia and David Asher of Armagh - the times of maximum Leonid activity and the estimated meteor rates are as follows, quoted from http://www.arm.ac.uk/leonid/encounters.html
Date Time ZHR rate Visible from
1. Nov. 18 10.01 UT 2,500/hr ? N. & Central America ie. debris shed by the comet in 1767, 7 'revolutions' ago in its trip around the sun
2. Nov. 18 17.31 UT 9,000/hr Australia & E. Asia ie. debris shed by the comet in 1699, 9 'revolutions' ago in its trip around the sun
3. Nov. 18 18.19 UT 15,000/hr W. Australia, E., SE & Central Asia ie. debris shed by the comet in 1866, 4 'revolutions' ago in its trip around the sun
(Peaks have been numbered 1, 2 & 3 for quick reference to other models mentioned below, for the same debris streams.)
The time is given in UT, Universal Time. This is the time in Greenwich, England - so count over the hours to get to your own time zone! For observers on Eastern Standard Time, it is 5 hours earlier - ie. for the above, using the 24 hour system: 05.01, 12.31 and 13.19, or in normal clock time: 5.01 am, 12.31 pm, and 1.19 pm. For observers on Pacific Time, it is 8 hours earlier - ie. for the above, using the 24 hour system: 02.01, 09.31 and 10.19, or in normal clock time: 2.01 am, 9.31 am, and 10.19 am. Time is tricky - so be careful. You can see from these times that North America only gets 1 peak at night.
Note that Australia and Asia are on the other side of the International Date Line - so the storming predicted over there actually happens in the pre-dawn hours of November 19th, not the 18th.
ZHR refers to the Zenithal Hourly Rate, the number of meteors that an observer would see, on the average, per hour, with the unaided eye, if they were out under a dark country sky, and if the radiant, the area in the sky where the meteors seem to come from, was directly overhead. We will be close to new moon for Leonids, so that is good. Get out to a dark site to increase your meteor rates! However, your latitude will affect how high the Leonid radiant will get in your sky - and that will affect your rates as well.
A diagram showing these 3 Leonid 'dust trails' is on the Armagh website at http://www.arm.ac.uk/leonid/info2001.html. It is interesting to note that the dust trails for 1699 and 1866 will appear very close together for us from the earth's viewpoint - and it could be difficult to tell them apart! It is also noted on the site that smaller contributions of dust from the 10 revolution debris and the 11 revolution debris will add to meteors seen from the 9 revolution and 4 revolution debris! (It will be very interesting for those doing meteor photography or video to see if there is a noticeable difference in radiant position for these different overlapping dust trails, as seen from the earth!) And - the cumulative effect of all these meteor rates could be quite phenomenal.
Another Leonid model, that of Esko Lyytinen, Markku Nissinen and Tom Van Flandern, predicts, as quoted from http://www.saunalahti.fi/~fmbb/astro/2001leonidstorm.htm
1. Nov. 18 10.28 UT
2,000/hr N. & Central America (7-rev)
2. Nov. 18 18.03 UT 2,600/hr W. Australia, E., SE & Central Asia (9-rev)
3. Nov. 18 18.20 UT 5,000/hr W. Australia, E., SE & Central Asia (4-rev) &
smaller peaks at:
Nov. 18 12.00 UT 110/hr (6-rev)
Nov. 18 14.10 UT 60/hr (5-rev)
Nov. 18 19.10 UT 150/hr (10 rev)
Nov. 18 19.10 UT 150/hr (11 rev)
Another Leonid model, that of Peter Jenniskens, predicts, as quoted from http://leonid.arc.nasa.gov/1998.html
1. Nov. 18 10.09 UT
4,200/hr N. America (7-rev)
2. Nov. 18 17.08 UT 1,800/hr Australia, E. Asia (9-rev)
3. Nov. 18 17.55 UT 2,700/hr Australia, E. Asia (4-rev) &
smaller peaks at:
Nov. 18 12.07 UT 40/hr Western USA/ Hawaii (6-rev)
Nov. 18 13.57 UT 14/hr Western USA/ Hawaii (5-rev)
Nov. 18 17.01 UT 170/hr Australia, E. Asia (10-rev)
Nov. 18 17.21 UT 510/hr Australia, E. Asia (11-rev)
Another Leonid model, that of Peter Brown and Bill Cooke, predicts, in the September 2001 issue of the "Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society", as paraphrased by Gary Kronk at http://comets.amsmeteors.org/meteors/showers/leonidprediction.html "that a 'broad and relatively strong' maximum will occur with a peak of possibly more than 1200 meteors per hour falling down between 10 and 12 UT. A much broader secondary maximum could occur around 17:30 UT with rates near 500 per hour."
Looking at the article by Bill Cooke on the Space Environments & Effects Program website at http://see.msfc.nasa.gov/see/Leonid_Forecast_2001.html, you can see this graphically by looking near the end of the article at the diagram "Revised Brown/Cooke 2001 Forecast". This multi-color graph gives a line for each of the debris streams - 1633, 1666, 1699, 1733, 1766, 1799, 1833, 1866 - and a line showing the total predicted activity as a result of the earth passing through all of this debris combined.
Can you see Leonid meteors at other times besides those listed above? Of course you can! As quoted from the Armagh website:
"You can view the background of the Leonid meteor shower at other times, basically between your own local midnight (exact time being latitude dependent) and morning twilight; it's just that you'll miss the encounters of the Earth with meteors from these particular dust trails if you're not in the parts of the world on these maps."
The maps - of where to be on the earth to see meteor storming due to the dust trails - are at http://www.arm.ac.uk/leonid/info2001.html. The total activity period for the Leonids is listed by the IMO, the International Meteor Organization, as November 14th to 21st. The dust trails are predicted to be seen at the specific times listed in the various models. We won't know whose model best matches the Leonid dust trail activity until after the meteors are seen! But the overall background Leonid meteor activity will be seen for a much longer period of time - before, during, and after the 'storming' due to the dust trails.
vi) Where Should You Go?...
Your priority as to where to observe Leonids from should be - first and foremost - a site where the skies will be clear! Many observers plan to travel - but all observations worldwide are valuable, as data is needed from as many different longitudes as possible to get complete global coverage.
vii) What Should You Record?...
What should you record? Check out our NAMN Observing Guide at http://www.namnmeteors.org/guide.html If you need a set of star charts showing the constellations, sky coordinates, and the magnitudes of stars useful in judging the brightness of the meteors you see, print yourself off a set from http://www.namnmeteors.org/charts.html.
For a set of star charts to use in judging how good your perception is, and how good your sky is (your limiting magnitude, LM), print off a selection of charts from http://www.imo.net/visual/major01.html#table2.
For the storm components of the Leonids, plan now. Life will be fast and furious - and your normal observing methods may not work.
Check out Sirko Molau's meteor storm simulation. It can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.imo.net/pub/software/metsim/ Give some thought now as to how you would deal with this. If you continue to record visually, you may have to estimate batches of meteors per time unit, and give up estimating magnitudes. You may decide to forego visual counting - and take timed photographs instead. You may decide to run a video camera. If recording by camera or video - be sure to accurately note your start and stop times - in order for your data to be useful scientifically.
For more information on meteor photography, check out http://www.imo.net/photo/index.html
For more information on video recording, check out http://www.imo.net/video/index.html. Keep in mind that only a handful of observers around the globe have the special 'intensified' video cameras that are talked about. However - due to the special nature of this year's Leonids - if you have a video camera of any kind, use it! All video coverage of this event, from as many observers around the globe as possible, will be useful. For more information, or questions concerning recording meteors by video, contact the IMO, International Meteor Organization, Video Commission Director, Sirko Molau, at email@example.com.
viii) Where in the Sky Should You Look?...
For the 'storm' components of the Leonids, we doubt that you will have a problem recognizing the Leonid meteors. However, in the quiet nights leading up to the maximum, and after the main weekend, you may need some info on where to look. A map showing the movement of the Leonid radiant over time can be found at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal01.html#Leonids.
The Leonids (LEO) will have a general radiant at 153 degrees, ie. RA 10h 12m, Dec +22, which is about 2 degrees down to the right of the star zeta Leonis, the star called Adhafera, up in the 'sickle' of Leo. No matter where in the sky you see them, if you trace back the path of a Leonid meteor, it will seem to come from this area.
The radiant is an area, not just a point in the sky. In fact, with the earth intersecting several dust trails this year, there will be slight differences in radiant position. These may or may not be noticeable by a visual observer - but would show up in detailed photographic or video observations.
These are very fast meteors, with a velocity of about 71 km per second. Get comfortable in your lawnchair, and center your gaze about 50 degrees up in the sky. As these meteors are very fast, the fainter ones may be difficult to detect for beginning observers. If you concentrate on one direction in the sky, instead of moving all over, you will have a better chance of seeing more meteors, especially the fainter ones. And - a dark country sky is important!
ix) How to Stay Tuned to Leonids as They Happen...
How can you stay tuned to the shower activity as it happens around the globe? Watch our "Meteorobs" email list. It is the best source in town! If you are reading this newsletter, and are not yet on our email list, consider subscribing so that you too can hear the latest Leonid happenings! To subscribe, go to our Subscriber form at http://www.meteorobs.org/subscribe.html.
We are interested in hearing all Leonid meteor reports! Drop an email either to the list or to our NAMN Coordinator at SC.firstname.lastname@example.org
2. A Leonid Checklist...
What do you need to observe the Leonids? The following is a basic checklist for those planning to observe this incredible meteor shower:
Warmth and comfort
- a reclining lawnchair so you can lie back in comfort
- a foam mat to put on your lawnchair to insulate your back
- a heavy sleeping bag
- extra blankets
- a tarp to put over your sleeping bag to keep frost or dew off
- long underwear, then layers of warm clothing
- a warm coat
- warm wool socks
- take your boots off
- warm mittens or gloves, and extra mittens
- wool hat
- a scarf to wrap around your neck and face
- cookies for a 3 a.m. snack
- thermos of tea or coffee
- paper and pencil and meteor recording sheets
- spare pencils
- preferably, pocket tape recorder, with paper as a backup
- if recorder, spare tapes and spare warm batteries
- red flashlight
- and a spare red flashlight
- watch or clock set to UT, Universal Time
- star charts showing 'standard stars' to judge meteor magnitude
- star charts to estimate LM, limiting magnitude of sky
To take still photos
- a camera with bulb, ie time exposure, setting
- a normal or wide angle lens
- a tripod
- a cable release
- fast film, preferably ASA 400 or higher
- some method of keeping frost or dew off your lens
- a watch to time your photos (important)
- a notebook to record your exposure start and stop times
To take video of
- a video camera with lots of spare battery packs
- a tripod
- a watch to time your video clips (important)
- if there is a time marker on your tape, set it properly ahead of time
- a notebook to record your exposure start and stop times
To see what the
fainter Leonids look like near the radiant, or to look at Leonid meteor
- a pair of binoculars
To help spread the
word about meteors:
- bring your friends and family
- the Leonids could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
3. Other November Showers...
The Orionids (ORI), debris from Halley's Comet, although having reached a maximum on October 21st, can be seen until about November 7th. On November 5th, the radiant will be at 105 degrees, ie RA 7h 00m, Dec +17, which is about 5 degrees to the left of the star gamma Gemini, the star known as Alhena. These are fast meteors, with a velocity of about 66 km per second. ZHR rates will be low, far less than the 20 meteors per hour seen back at maximum in October. A map showing the movement of the Orionid radiant can be found at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal01.html#Orionids. The Orionid radiant is the line labelled ORI.
The southern Taurids (STA) reach a maximum on November 5th, with a radiant at 052 degrees, ie RA 3h 28.2m, Dec +13, which is about a degree to the right of the star 5 Tauri on a star atlas. These are slow meteors, with a velocity of about 27 km per second. ZHR rates at maximum will be about 5 meteors per hour. They can be seen in lesser numbers until about November 25th.
The northern Taurids (NTA) reach a maximum on November 12th, with a radiant at 058 degrees, ie RA 3h 52.2m, Dec +22, which is about 2 degrees down to the left of the Pleiades star cluster. These are, like the southern Taurids, also fairly slow meteors, with a velocity of about 29 km per second. ZHR rates are also similar, with about 5 meteors per hour. These can also be seen until about November 25th. A map of the northern and southern Taurid radiants can be found in the IMO calendar for 2002, at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal02.html#Taurids.
The alpha Monocerotids (AMO) are a special shower - and should be monitored. They have variable rates, and have been known to outburst in the past. They reach a maximum on November 21st, with a radiant at 117 degrees, ie RA 7h 48m, Dec +01, which is about 4 degrees down to the left of the bright star Procyon in Canis Minor. They are fast meteors, at about 65 km per second, and can be seen from about November 15th to 25th. A map showing the radiant can be found at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal01.html#alpha-Monocerotids.
The chi Orionids (XOR), although not reaching a maximum until December 2nd, can be seen starting about November 26th. On November 30th, the radiant will be at 080 degrees, ie RA 5h 19.8m, Dec +23, which is about 1 degree north of the star 109 Tauri on a star atlas. These are fairly slow meteors, at about 28 km per second. Rates at the maximum on December 2nd will be about 3 meteors per hour, but in late November, fewer will be seen. For a map of the radiant positions, see the IMO calendar for 2000 at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal00.html#chi-Orionids.
The Phoenicids (PHO), although not reaching a maximum until December 6th, can be seen starting about November 28th. On November 30th, the radiant will be at 014 degrees, ie RA 0h 55.8m, Dec -52, which is about 34 degrees south of the star beta Cetus, known as Diphda, and will only be seen by more southerly observers. These are very slow meteors, at about 18 km per second. ZHR rates are variable, so can provide some surprises. The radiant, although very far south, can be seen on the map at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal01.html#Phoenicids.
Lastly, the Monocerotids (MON), although not reaching a maximum until December 9th, can be seen starting about November 27th. On November 30th, the radiant will be at 091 degrees, RA 6h 4.2m, Dec +8, which is about 2 degrees to the left of the star Betelgeuse in Orion. These are average velocity meteors, at about 42 km per second. ZHR rates at maximum will be about 3 meteors per hour, and November rates less. A map of the radiant is at http://www.imo.net/calendar/cal01.html#Geminids. The Monocerotid radiant is the line labelled MON.
For extra reading on any of these showers, or to read about other minor showers not on the IMO "Working List of Visual Meteor Showers", check out Gary Kronk's "Comets and Meteor Showers" website at http://comets.amsmeteors.org. To see movie clips of sample comets and meteors, check out Kronk's 'Education Corner'.
Besides recognized showers, there is also sporadic meteor activity in November, about 7 meteors per hour, visible to the unaided eye. This activity is comprised partly of random meteor activity and partly of meteors that belong to long-ago, now untraceable showers.
Full moon this month is on Thursday November 1st - and is called the Hunter's Moon. Last quarter is on Thursday November 8th. New moon is on Thursday November 15th - just before the Leonids. First quarter is on Thursday November 22nd.
For use in judging the brightness of the meteors you see this month, the magnitudes of the planets are as follows (to the nearest half magnitude for most of the month):
Venus -4 in the morning sky Mercury -1 in the morning sky Jupiter -2.5 visible all night in Gemini Saturn -1 visible all night in Taurus Mars 0 in the evening sky in Capricornus
For more info on the moon and planets, check out http://www.heavens-above.com, "Select" your location, and then check out the options. On Saturday November 3rd at 22h UT, Saturn will be 0.6 degrees south of the moon, with an occultation visible from Europe, the British Isles, NW Africa, the Arctic, Russia, and Japan. This website is also useful in determining the identity of satellites you will see while meteor observing!
Astronomy Club of Tulsa, 918.688.MARS
President: John Land
Vice President: Dennis Mishler
Secretary: Teresa Kincannon
Treasurer: Nick Pottorf
RMCC Observatory Manager: Gerry Andries
Observing Chairman: David Stine
Web Master: Tom McDonough
New Membership: Dennis Mishler