Edition 10 of the Astronomy On-line Newspaper

The Leonids - A Short Update

Did you join the Collaborative Project about the Leonid Meteors? Even if you did not yet, you may interested in this update. Note also the new page with information for expert observers.

The Leonids have a reasonable high activity - and the maximum seems yet to come.

This morning (November 17) the activity did rise to and estimated 50 meteors per hour. Some of them were brilliant flashes - leaving a long and smoky trail!

So far no storm has been observed.

Veteran observer Gottfred M. Kristensen estimates the activity is still rising - the maximum to come this afternoon.

Gottfred runs a highly acknowledged electronic survey - based on FM-Radio measurements. You may find more information at this site: http://www.dsri.dk/AS/sect/meteor.html

When a meteor enters the atmosphere - the hot and ionized meteor trail may reflect radiowaves from Earth based stations.

The trick is now to adjust your radioreceiver to a remote radiostation - a station where the signal is too weak to give any audible signal.

Now the radiowaves are reflected off the meteor trails - resulting in an electronical detectable signal - suddently your otherwise quiet FM-radio will start playing music. This effect lasts only a few seconds - the lifetime of the meteor trail.

This method has one big advantage, it works even during daytime. More details about when the maximum did occur - and at what strength will come here in Astronomy On-Line.

Far the best observing conditions will be during the morning hours.

In direction of East - you will observe the Lion - with Mars below it.

If you stay out for a while - far away from light sources - you will clearly observe the radiant effect - how all meteor trails - if extended backwards - converge into the same constellation - the Lion.

This effect is purely a perspective one - you may observe a similar effect while driving your car during a snowstorm.

The driver will observe all snowflakes as emitting from one single point - ahead of the car.

If you stop the car - this geometrical effect vanishes.

Have a nice hunt - and please report your observations !

Mogens Winther (Soenderborg Amtsgymnasium)
Email: amtsgym@po.ia.dk

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Last update: Nov 17, 1996