Leonid Meteor Storm 2002
November 16, 2002 11:35 PM   Subscribe

They're back--and promise to as brighter or brighter than last year:
NASA scientists' predictions for the 2002 Leonid meteor storm.

Such meteor storms rarely happen in consecutive years, but 2001 and 2002 are exceptions. Experts have just released their predictions: Depending on where you live (Europe and the Americas are favored) Leonid meteor rates in 2002 should equal or exceed 2001 levels.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the Moon will be full when the storm begins on Nov. 19th. Glaring moonlight will completely overwhelm many faint shooting stars. Indeed, I often hear that the Moon is going to "ruin the show."

We shall see.
posted by y2karl (22 comments total)
There must be some way we could apply a layer of light-absorbing paint to the surface of the moon.
posted by shoos at 2:04 AM on November 17, 2002

"Experts have just released their predictions:"

I thought the predictions were based on modelling of the shower based on previous years, not direct observation in the weeks and days before the shower. Isn't this like saying that 'experts release their eclipse predictions' a few days before the eclipse? Is there really new data here, or just NASA rah-rah sensationalism to get people hopped up on space fever so we can afford that new shuttle?
posted by kfury at 5:37 AM on November 17, 2002

Are you cranky before that first cup of coffee or are you simply begging the question?

What, they should release it last February so everyone could forget it by now? That is, if they knew then--after all, they are tracking discrete clouds of cometary debris here in what I might jargonize as a complex gravitic and orbital environment. I pointed out this same event last year for the same reason as this year--it's a meteor storm, not merely a meteor shower. It's a rare event that won't happen again for decades. This year's storm should be well worth watching, full moon or not. I merely intended to give timely notice here.

And let me add I found the thread that arose from kokogiak's following question then interesting and very much possessing the sense of shared human space that is one of MetaFilter's major charms. My link notified and kokogiak's thread analyzed--both sorts of posts were worth it then and are now. I know I'm going out to Tuesday night and I'll be interested to hear what people here who watched saw and thought wherever they were in the real world.
posted by y2karl at 8:00 AM on November 17, 2002

This forecast animation is edifyingly cool, too.
posted by y2karl at 9:03 AM on November 17, 2002

I'm not bothering this year. It's inconvienently timed; looks to peak well after 3am, whereas it was nearer to midnight last year, IIRC.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2002

"2002 will likely be the last year until 2099 that the Leonid meteors will again produce a meteor storm like the ones of 1833 and 1966."

Yeah, 2:30a on a Tuesday morning (not to mention in late November ... brrr!) is sort of a stretch for me as well, but I'll probably make the trek out.

Is anyone else participating in a viewing party?
posted by pfafflin at 9:22 AM on November 17, 2002

Party, no, but if the skies are clear I'll be out there. Last year I ended up lying flat on my back on the sidewalk for a while (brrr!). It was well worth it.
posted by Songdog at 2:35 PM on November 17, 2002

I am in Central Texas and have a 20 mile drive to work. I had to be at work by 06:30 AM this morning. I saw several meteors on my way in this morning and its only the 17th, by the morning of the 19th it ought to be a good show.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:44 PM on November 17, 2002

Also, sleepyheads, the Mini Thin ® 25/50 Energy Booster is available at finer Kwik-E-Marts nationwide...
posted by y2karl at 3:46 PM on November 17, 2002

Vancouver isn't a good place to be for these events. Last year we were lucky and had a clear night, so I drove up to a local ski hill and watched. The best were meteors that made noises - like electrical static - as they came in.
posted by Salmonberry at 5:30 PM on November 17, 2002

I've tried watching the Leonids for three/four years in a row, and every time it's been overcast. With the weather the way it has been the last few days, things don't look well... but here's hoping. Of course, even if it is clear, getting up for a 5:30am peak isn't an easy task in itself. I think I'm going to be cranky at work that Tuesday, regardless of viewings.
posted by mkn at 7:33 PM on November 17, 2002

My preliminary report: No meteors yet. In the vicinity of Orion I can see to 4th magnitude right now, but lower to the east the glow of New York City washes out my northern NJ sky and I can just barely make out Procyon at mag 0.4. Not much chance of seeing a meteor through that, and I didn't. I will be getting up at 4 AM to try again towards the second peak. though. Leo will have risen above the glare into the southeast and the moon will have moved further west.

Anyone else having any luck?
posted by Songdog at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2002

After posting: apparently. couldn't. read. the. preview. though. Better go to bed. though.
posted by Songdog at 8:22 PM on November 18, 2002

I have just been convinced by the S.O. to wake up at 5:00 in the morning to go see the show ("it's our last chance in 90 years!"). Off to bed, then; report afterwards (much afterwards).
posted by yhbc at 8:38 PM on November 18, 2002

2:41 a.m. and I think it's safe to say that it's far too cloudy here for any meteor activity to be seen. I've been robbed by a high pressure cell. Damn you, weather, damn you!
posted by Dreama at 11:46 PM on November 18, 2002

Saw some faint streaks, and a couple of really startling and bright fireballs, about an hour and a half ago. Plan to go back out for the 5:30 peak.

I'm in NYC. Not the darkest place in the world.
posted by swift at 12:50 AM on November 19, 2002

Just came in from the cold. Great viewing here on my small hill in the middle of Texas. Nice, bright and one every few seconds.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:57 AM on November 19, 2002

Good streaks from Chestnut Village outside Boston. I can remember so many nights out watching the various showering meteors. Tonight was slow but satisfying. I'm wondering if there's pre-dawn action out there I'm missing!

The best meteor shower I've ever seen was back in the late eighties from Stonington, CT at Lake of Isles Boy Scout Camp (now it's Foxwoods). The brilliance and frequency of those shooting stars seared me to the dark majesty of the woods, and gave me a fleeting, but profund, sense of the depth and beauty of the universe.

How many wishes did you make tonight? Where/when was your best meteor shower?
posted by Bones423 at 3:10 AM on November 19, 2002

Here in central Massachusetts, it was a disappointing show. The Mrs. and I were out of bed and the house by 5:00, and drove a little way out to get away from the streetlights; however, the full moon and low icy clouds spoiled the show. By 5:30 we had each seen only three streaks, so we called off the watch and went back to bed for another hour. Well, maybe next century.
posted by yhbc at 6:34 AM on November 19, 2002

Got up at 5, was out in the park (darkest place around) before 5:30, lay on my back and saw at least a dozen over the course of 15-20 minutes: not spectacular, but worth getting up for. though.
posted by languagehat at 7:36 AM on November 19, 2002

Looked out the window a few times when I woke up during the night. Cloudy. And now I hear that it wasn't all that hot a show anyway. Thank goodness I was getting up to pee anyway, and hadn't actually set any alarms.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:47 AM on November 19, 2002

I tried again at 4:00 AM EST (in northern New Jersey) and saw no meteors. Incoming clouds and haze were slowly obscuring the sky. I intended to try again at 5:20 but it just didn't happen.
posted by Songdog at 9:59 AM on November 19, 2002

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