SJAA Ephemeris November 2002 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

Leonids peak November 19th

Jane Houston Jones

In 2002, Earth will travel through the dust of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle ejected in 1767 (visible from Europe at 0400 UT) and 1866 (visible from the Americas at 1036 UT). Image courtesy of David Asher, Armaugh Observatory

This graph shows the expected variation of Leonid meteor activity (in numbers per hour under ideal observing conditions). Image courtesy of Peter Jenniskens, SETI Institute


As in years past, several SJAA members will be participating in the NASA Leonid Multi-instrument Aircraft Campaign (MAC). This year two aircraft will fly from Edwards AFB/NASA Dryden to Torrejon AFB in Spain and back to Edwards. Mike Koop will be on the USAF FISTA (Flying Infrared Signature Technology Aircraft) — a modified NKC135-E with 20 upward-looking window ports oriented at different angles for maximum coverage of the sky. Jane and Morris Jones will be aboard the NASA DC-8 Airborne Laboratory. The DC-8 can accomodate remote sensing instruments at the zenith, 8 degree, and 62 degree elevation viewports.

After landing in Spain two days before the storm night we'll do some meteor counting practice, some mandatory crew rest and some sightseeing and then we'll fly west into the two Leonid meteor storms, one over Europe, and one 6 hours later over the USA, before landing at dawn at Offut AFB in Nebraska.

We'll fly and observe the storm from above clouds and water vapor and away from city lights. The mission web site at offers a Java applet that shows what rates to expect from your location. The rate estimator is here: It nicely demonstrates the change in rates between viewing from downtown, the suburbs, the countryside, or best, in the mountains.

We hope the November skies at all of our favorite local dark sites will be cloud free and meteor rich! Send your Leonid tales to the SJAA Ephemeris editors at It will be the last time in our lifetime for Leonid storm reports after all!


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