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Re: (IAAC) Leonid meteors question



Someone asked about predicting meteors, and Steve Coe replied:
>No, individual meteors cannot be predicted, but because meteor
>SHOWERS do follow the same paths as comets and are produced by
>the material spewing off the comet to form a tail, the showers
>can be predicted.  I am hoping someone with more info than me
>can help with info on when to go out and see a meteor storm.
Steve and everyone, the fact is that some meteor showers, like
the Perseids of mid-August, Leonids of mid-November, or Geminids
of mid-December, return each year to put on more or less of a
"show" for patient sky watchers. However, although the particle
streams which are the source of meteor showers ARE in fact the
debris trails of comets, their motion within the Solar System is
anything but completely predictable with our current knowledge!
As a matter of fact, it's that very unpredictability which makes
meteor science an area of astronomy where amateurs can still make
an important contribution! As for predicting a once-in-a-lifetime
event like the "meteor storm component" of the Leonids, which may
or may NOT produce a 40-60 minute storm over some lucky set of
longitudes this year, well - I can quote some of the best models,
like those used by NASA to organize their observing efforts, but
I'll still have to add the caveat that NO ONE knows for sure!
To find out more about observing meteor showers, either "just for
the show", or to collect useful scientific data as an amateur, see
the Web archive and information site for the 'meteorobs' list at:
    http://www.tiac.net/users/lewkaren/meteorobs
Particularly see the pages on "Meteor Showers" and "Meteor Storms"
for more info on the Leonids and how best to view them this year!
[Short answer: try to stay out from 11pm till dawn on both of the
possible peak nights, Nov 16/17 and Nov 17/18! :> This shouldn't
be hard for denizens of IAAC, since those will be near New Moon!]
Clear skies and many meteors to all!
Lew

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