The Leonid Meteors 2000
Reports of 2000 Observations from the IMO
Reports of 2000 Observations from the AMS
Reports of 2000 Observations from ESA
Radio Meteor Forward Scatter Observations(For observing tips, and further information about the Leonids in 2000 and other years, try Science@NASA.)
The Leonids are the debris of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years or so, the comet returns to the inner solar system and releases material that forms into a new dust trail. In 2000 November the Earth will pass near the trails released at the 1932, 1733 and 1866 returns, i.e. 2 revolutions, 8 revolutions and 4 revolutions of the comet ago. The Earth's passage right through the centre of trails is associated with the most spectacular meteor displays (studies show that, as well as how close to the centre of the trail you are, the strength of the display also depends on how far along a trail's length you are).
None of the trail encounters in 2000 has the Earth going right through the trail centre, as shown in this diagram.
Further explanation of this plot is available.
The Earth encounters trail centres more closely in 2001 and 2002. Therefore estimates of the meteor activity are more favourable in those years. There should nevertheless be significant activity in 2000, the two main peaks being due to the 8-rev and 4-rev trails. The plot shows that the miss distance of the Earth from the centre of the 2-rev trail is somewhat greater than in the 8-rev and 4-rev encounters, and therefore the 2-rev is omitted from our list. It is included in Lyytinen and van Flandern's list as shown on the Leonid MAC page, and it is likely that there will be some activity from it.
Which parts of the world will be best?
Below are Rob McNaught's visibility maps from the Astronomical Society of Australia web pages. The world is seen, from the direction of the Leonid radiant, in zenithal equidistant projection. The left is at night, the right is in daylight, and the bands in the middle represent astronomical, nautical and civil twilight. So you want to be at night; given that constraint, you see more meteors the nearer you are to the centre of the map, because Leo (where Leonid meteors appear to radiate from) will be higher in the sky. The phase of the Moon (last quarter) is drawn as seen from the southern hemisphere. This year, the Moon will unfortunately be up while Leonids are visible (in the maps, the Moon is below the horizon only above the dashed lines very near the top of the maps).
The X towards the top is the north pole, and the Earth's rotation over four hours is evident. The second map can be used the night before (= morning of Nov 17) for the encounter with the 2-revolution trail, because the peak encounter time is very close to 24 hours before the 4-rev trail encounter. You can view the background of the Leonid meteor shower at other times, basically between your own local midnight (exact time being latitude dependent) and morning twilight; it's just that you'll miss the encounters of the Earth with meteors from the 2-rev, 8-rev and 4-rev trails if you're not in the parts of the world on these maps.
Go to Armagh Observatory Leonid page.
Last Revised: 2000 November 30th
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