Tuesday, November 19, 2002. Leonid Observations.

The following are observations of the 2002 Leonids made by club members.


The sky conditions this morning were far from ideal. There was a full moon in the West and thin clouds covering most of the sky. The moon illuminated the clouds and washed out the sky background most effectively. In many parts of the sky only the major stars were visible although there were some relatively clear patches where the limiting magnitude might have been as good as 4th. The moon was rather far from the Leonid radiant (100 degrees?) and that was helpful. The temperature was well below freezing.

I observed from about 4:45am to 5:15am. During that time I estimated that I saw perhaps somewhat more than one Leonid per minute. I'm guessing that I observed a rate of 100 per hour. I did not do any kind of formal count, however. Considering the conditions the shower was quite active although I doubt if the ZHR was several thousand per hour as some had predicted for this time.

As I observed last year, some of the Leonids were rather faint and some were quite bright. This year I saw more bright ones than faint ones due, no doubt, to the sky conditions. On one occassion I happened to be looking directly at rather bright Leonid as it flashed by. It was considerably brighter than Jupiter (conveniently placed in Leo as a comparison "star"); I'd estimate the meteor at magnitude -4. On another occassion, I was looking away from the meteor, but I knew a bright one had just happened because I could see the snow light up around me. When I turned I saw a thick "smoke trail" glowing brightly for a few seconds. It was located near the moon and may have been glowing, partly at least, from reflected moonlight.

Overall it was a good show compared to most meteor showers, but not as impressive as what I observed last year and certainly not a meteor "storm".

My observations from last year are at http://www.ecet.vtc.edu/~pchapin/astronomy/2001-11-18.txt.


I got up at 4:00am but it was almost totally cloudy (the Moon was a "haze ball"), I went back to bed until my normal time to get up. I was back out at around 5:30 and was out until around 5:50 (had to leave for work). Conditions were poor at best. Regulus was visible, but not very well. Limiting magnitude was probably around 2 over most of the sky (I could not see the North Star). I did see 2 Leonids. I suspect there were many more, as the ones I saw had to be at least zero magnitude to be seen though the murk. Overall the event was not nearly as good as last year for me. I am not disappointed this year however because last year was such a great event (I actually got to see and photograph a "once in a lifetime" event).


I possibly observed at the wrong time, although I was still impressed. I was out from 5:20 till 6:00 and observed about 65. However, only 10 or so were very bright. I had an unobstructed view of the mortheastern sky. By 5:55 the Leonids were barely a light streak across the sky. With the sun rising in the east and the Moon setting in the west, visibility became poor. My location was in Williamstown, just off from the Interstate. No light pollution. Overall, it was worth getting up.

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© Copyright 2002 Vermont Technical College Astronomy Club.