Eric Holcomb

Address: 1900 NE 3rd St STE 106 PMB 361, Bend, OR 97701-3889
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November 2001 Leonid Meteors over Australia

November 18-19, 2001 Leonid Meteors

The annual Leonid meteor shower, caused by dust and debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, was predicted to be especially strong (possibly reaching "storm" levels) in 2001 due to encounters with specific dust trails left behind in space during previous orbits of the comet around the sun. Two encounters were predicted - one at about 1000 UT on November 18 (visible in pre-dawn darkness from North America) and one at about 1800 UT on November 18 (visible on the morning of the 19th from Australia). Eric chose an Australian tour led by NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak. The viewing site was near Ayers Rock Resort at latitude 25 13' S, longitude 131 3' E, elevation 1615 feet.

All pictures were taken with a 45mm f/1.8 lens on Fuji ASA 800 print film, with exposure times of approximately 30 to 40 seconds.

Click on thumbnails to see larger versions of these pictures.

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Top Left - Shows persistent trail from a Leonid fireball meteor near the Pleiades and the Hyades. The trail persisted for 10 minutes or more.  This was early in the viewing period, perhaps around 0250 local time.

Top Right - Shows persistent trail from a Leonid fireball meteor near the Large Magellanic Cloud, as well as at least three other Leonid meteors.

Lower Left - Shows persistent trail from a Leonid fireball meteor between the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, as well as at least one other Leonid meteor.

Lower Right - Shows Southern Cross and "Coal Sack" dark patch in the Milky Way crossed by one Leonid meteor, with a brighter Leonid to the East. This was later in the viewing period, perhaps near 0400 local time.

There was another strong showing of the Leonid meteors over North America on the morning of November 19, 2002, however a nearly full moon interfered with viewing.