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(IAAC) Leonids 1366: "The air seemed to be in flames"



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Subject: Leonids 1366: "The air seemed to be in flames"
From: Lew Gramer <dedalus@latrade.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 98 12:08:27 -0500
As we've all made pains to point out, none of us are likely to see any
thing like the storms of 1366, 1833 or 1966 this year. And those of us
in the US are not even certain to see any major enhancement in Leonids
shower rates over previous years in the 1990s! However, the following
may help keep everyone's interest up just a LITTLE bit...
The following is an excerpt from Gary Kronk's wonderful Leonids pages:
    http://medicine.wustl.edu/~kronkg/leonids.html
This particular section is from "Leonids - Ancient and Medieval" at:
    http://medicine.wustl.edu/~kronkg/leonidancient.html
    Comet Tempel-Tuttle Passed Perihelion in 1366 October 18
    1366: The Portuguese text Cronicas dos reis de Portugal (1600)
    records that on the morning of October 23 "there was in the heavens
    a movement of stars, such as men never before saw or heard of. From
    midnight onward, all the stars moved from the east to the west; and
    after being together, they began to move, some in one direction, and
    others in another. And afterward they fell from the sky in such
    numbers, and so thickly together, that as they descended low in
    the air, they seemed large and fiery, and the sky and the air seemed
    to be in flames, and even the earth appeared as if ready to take fire.
    Those who saw it were filled with such great fear and dismay, that
    they were astounded, imagining they were all dead men, and that the
    end of the world had come."
Gary also notes:
    Please note that because of the gravitational influences of the
    planets, there has been a steady advancement of the line of nodes
    of Tempel-Tuttle. This basically means that the point where Earth
    intersects the comet's orbit occurs later every century. Therefore,
    the Leonids occurred in mid-October during the 10th century, late
    October during the 16th century, and mid-November during the 20th
    century. The perihelion dates of Tempel-Tuttle were kindly computed
    and supplied to the author by D. K. Yeomans of JPL.
Good luck to all around the world, for a good show on November 17!
Lew Gramer
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