A Brief Summary of What Transpired
The last Leonid "super storm" transpired in 1966 when over 100,000 meteors per hour
were seen at one point in the eastern part of the United States. The 33-year cycle
suggested that 1999 would be spectacular. A storm (defined as having an hourly rate of
more than 1,000 meteors at the peak) did occur in 1999 but the intensity
was considerably less than figures predicted by astronomers: Viewers saw
about 2,500 meteors per hour at the peak under ideal conditions.
for the 2002 Leonid Meteor Shower
Last year (2001) before dawn on November 18, another storm took place
over North America. Several thousand meteors per hour were seen during a period
lasting a little more than an hour.
This year (2002) around 11:00 UT on November 19, there was a good display
over North America but not a storm. At the peak,
one would have seen several hundred meteors per hour
had not the Moon been so bright. One of Jupiter
Scientific's staff members saw about 100 meteors in one-and-a-half hours
in less-than-ideal conditions.
Over the last three years, there has been a dramatic improvement
in Leonid prediction methods. Astronomers
are now able to forecast the times at which Leonid peaks occur. This is important because
the appearances of Leonid meteors are concentrated
in short periods (of the order of an hour) around the peaks. Estimates
of the number of meteors seen are less accurate but have improved.
seems that, from 2003 until the next 33 year cycle, the Leonids
will not be spectacular.
If you enjoy watching meteors, the most reliable display is the
Perseid meteor shower in the second
week of August.
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