Skip to comments.Violent Meteor Storm Heads For Earth
Posted on 11/11/2001 6:40:39 AM PST by blam
Violent meteor storm heads for Earth
A violent meteor storm is edging closer to Earth.
Space Shuttle flights are being cancelled and astronauts in the International Space Station are bracing themselves.
It's set to be the most powerful meteor storm to hit in decades.
Some of the 600 communications satellites orbiting Earth are also at risk.
The meteor is travelling at 160,000mph and will pass close to Earth later this week.
Nasa has already taken steps to protect the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope.
And the three astronauts in the space station are set to make their final space walk until the storm has passed.
The cosmic fireworks will begin as the Earth begins to cut across the orbit of Comet Temple-Tuttle, and into the blizzard of meteors.
The shower known as the Leonids, is an annual event but this year Earth will cut across an especially dense part of it.
Some parts of the world will be able to see the spectacular light show in the sky.
Story filed: 11:00 Sunday 11th November 2001
I knew, sooner or later, we Jews would get blamed for this...
The Leonid meteor shower occurs from about 14 to 20 November as the Earth passes through an old debris stream left by past passages of the comet Temple-Tuttle. The maximum rate occurs within a day or so of November 17 and is usually less than 10 per hour. The meteors appear to come from a radiant that lies within the "sickle" of the constellation of Leo (hence the name). An unusual feature of this stream is that it is often associated with some fairly bright meteors that may leave a trail (called a train) behind that is visible for many seconds, and sometimes even minutes. The meteors travel very fast and the brighter meteors may show a golden colour. In fact these meteors are the fastest of any meteor stream so far observed.
I have often wondered when we will have a space station or a space craft of some other space conveyance collide with something hard is such a way that all the folks aboard are suddenly obliterated. Let's hope it happens sometime if the more distant future.
Can't answer your question. The experts will show up in a little while, stay tuned.
Journalisitic license? No, just plain stoopidity. I wish these idiots had to work for a living.
Also, don't be afraid of the size of the showers, it is simply an optical illusion. The meteorites you see are smaller than a grain of salt...
. . . Be afraid, ye Indians and high-hearted Ethiopians: for when the fiery wheel of the ecliptic(?) . . . and Capricorn . . . and Taurus among the Twins encircles the mid-heaven, when the Virgin ascending and the Sun fastening the girdle round his forehead dominates the whole firmament; there shall be a great conflagration from the sky, falling on the earth;
Are these lines from Book V of the SIBYLLINE ORACLES eschatological nonsense? Contemporary astronomical evidence suggests a historic basis for words describing cosmic calamity. British astronomers, Victor Clube and Bill Napier, in THE COSMIC WINTER (1990) and other recent works, provide students of the past with newly discovered celestial clues which indicate that Earth has been periodically pelleted with comet fragments throughout the Holocene period. The evidence for the break-up of a large (> 50 km), short period (approximately 3.3 years), Earth-orbit-crossing comet is substantial and should be considered as hard as anything a trowel might turn up. What astronomical information cannot convey is the actual effect these periodic bombardment episodes had on human culture; only further digging and sifting will illuminate that aspect.
(I read COSMIC WINTER, a pretty good read)
Rates could reach hundreds or possibly even more than 1,000 meteors per hour. An even stronger burst of Leonids may arrive about 8 hours later, around 17:00 to 18:30 Universal Time November 18th, when Australia and the Far East will have the view.
Some scientist are predicting this could possibly be a fantastic show this year. I know some events have been less than spectacular in recent times, so we will see. Can you imagine 1,000 meteors an hour? Way cool.
Chappaqua and Whitehaven Street?
I read that Osama bin Loser is drawing up a screed about how youse guys is responsible for the meteor storm, spring tides, and morning breath...
They are, however, closer than they appear in your side-view mirrors!
We do not!
Is there a rain date? :-)
That was the Orionid shower.
Yup. That's right. I got up at 3:00Am to see it and saw NOTHING!
I guess that if they're traveling at that rate,it would be pointless to put on my hard hat
What did they do? Put it in a garage?
Bill Cooke (NASA, MArshall Space Flight Center) and other experts agree that when the Leonids return later this month sky watchers in some parts of the world will see a display even better than the one in 1998. Indeed, says Cooke, "what's coming on Nov. 18th could be the biggest event since 1966 [when North Americans enjoyed a Leonid storm numbering 100,000 shooting stars per hour]."
Observers in North America, Hawaii, Australia and Asian countries along the Pacific Rim will be favored for the best views of the 2001 Leonids. Meteor rates in those places could climb as high as 8000 per hour -- not quite as intense as the 1966 storm, but more than enough to make a sky watcher's jaw drop.
2001 Leonid Forecasts
North America: Sunday Morning, Nov 18th, 4:00 - 6:00 a.m. in New York; 1:00 - 3:00 a.m. in Los Angeles; 800 - 4000 per hour
Leonid meteor storms happen when Earth passes through clouds of dusty debris shed by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle when it comes close to the Sun every 33 years. This year our planet is heading for close encounters with four such clouds. They bubbled off Tempel-Tuttle in 1699, 1766, 1799 and 1866.
"Each encounter with a dust cloud will produce an outburst of Leonids over some part of our planet," explains Cooke. "For example, the best place to view the 1799 meteoroids is Hawaii. That's where I'll be!" The 1766 cloud will produce a flurry of Leonids over North America, while the 1699 and 1866 clouds will rain meteors over Australia and east Asia.
"These clouds are long and narrow like a comet's tail," says Cooke. "The younger ones are only 10 or so Earth-diameters wide." Our chances of hitting something so narrow and filamentary are slim. Indeed, most years in November we miss them altogether. Earth glides between the clouds where there is only a sprinkling of meteoroids. At such times Leonid rates remain low: only 10 or 15 meteors per hour.
"In 1998 we passed through material shed by the comet in 1333," says Cooke. "That filament was old and somewhat spread out," so rates never climbed to storm levels. It was nevertheless spectacular because "the smallest bits of dust inside that cloud had been blown away long ago by solar radiation pressure. Only the largest meteoroids remained -- hence the fireballs."
"In 2001 we're running into relatively young clouds, richer in small meteoroids," added Cooke. "Observers from '98 who remember mostly fireballs will be dazzled this year instead by a greater number of ordinary meteors."
Although certain parts of the world are favored for intense activity this year, Cooke encourages people everywhere to watch the sky on Nov. 18th. "The Leonids might surprise us," he says. Predicted outbursts might fizzle, and activity could surge at unexpected times.
Veteran meteor watchers are wary of Leonid predictions because the science of forecasting Leonid meteor storms is still young. The basic techniques were pioneered only three years ago by astronomers David Asher (Armagh Observatory) and Rob McNaught (Australian National University). They correctly predicted a brief meteor storm over the Middle East and Europe in 1999. Then, in 2000, they and others used similar methods to forecast the times of three more Leonid flurries. It's a promising track record, but by no means well-established.
If you're determined to spot some Leonids this year, here is the best strategy: Dress warmly and travel (if necessary) to a dark-sky site away from urban light pollution. Be prepared to watch the sky between midnight and sunrise on Sunday morning, Nov. 18th. Meteor rates will probably be low near midnight -- although that is a good time to see beautiful Earthgrazing Leonids -- then climb to 10 or 20 per hour by dawn. If you're lucky you might witness a storm-level outburst and count thousands of shooting stars.
With the Leonids there are no guarantees.
No matter, the coming shower will surely send some sky watchers home with life-long memories. "I'll never forget the night of Nov 18th, 2001," they might recall years from now -- just as I remember the Leonids of 1998. Others, perhaps, will gain little more than a quiet night under the stars. One thing is certain: if you stay indoors you won't see anything!
Visit SpaceWeather.com for more observing tips and for real-time updates and images during the coming meteor shower.
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