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STARGAZING

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The Leonids are Coming

 

Historically, the Leonid meteor storms have produced some awesome displays. A few of the world's top meteor experts have predicted that on the early morning of November 18, 2001, stargazers might be able to see the most dramatic Leonid meteor storm since 1966.

You may begin watching on Saturday night, November 17, but do most of your observing from midnight to dawn Sunday morning. Data is indicating a possible storm outburst in the dawn hours of Sunday morning. The peak will be brief—about an hour or less—somewhere around 5 a. m. Interfering moonlight will not be a factor for the moon is a mere 3-days old and sets long before the Leonids begin.

The meteors are called the Leonids because they appear to radiate from the constellation Leo. These meteors are small particles of fast moving-dust shed by Comet Temple-Tuttle. The millimeter size particles enter the earth's atmosphere at speeds of between 25,000-160,000 miles per hour. At these immense speeds, both the particle and the air surrounding it glow producing the phenomenon known as a meteor.

The most important factor in observing meteors is a dark sky. Get bundled up and take along the reclining lawn chair. That will make looking at the sky more enjoyable and less of a strain on your neck. Look at any part of the sky especially the clearest and darkest part with the least number of obstructions.

It may be that Waynedale is in for an impressive meteor storm on the early morning of November 18, 2001. If you happen to be one of the lucky stargazers to catch a glimpse of these bits of comet debris, make sure you make a wish. I'll be wishing for a cloudless sky for each of you!

Happy Stargazing!

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The Waynedale News Staff
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