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Grasslands Observatory: 101 Arp Galaxies
and the Leonid Meteor Shower




by Tim Hunter and James McGaha

On the evening of November 16-17, 1998, the night of the fabulous Leonid Meteor Shower of 1998, we decided to image 100 Arp galaxies in order to fulfill the requirements for the Astronomical League's Arp Peculiar Galaxy Club. To receive a club certificate, you must visually observe 100 Arp galaxies or image 100 Arp galaxies with a CCD camera. There are a total of 338 Arp galaxies, and you are allowed to pick which 100 you want to observe or image. We used the Apogee AP7 CCD camera for the imaging and took exposures of 1 minute each through a clear filter.

One of us (JM) controlled the computer and CCD camera while the other (TBH) moved the telescope from object to object-this was in days prior to computer controlled telescopes. We compared our CCD images with the appropriate MegaStar chart for each Arp galaxy to make certain we were imaging the correct object. We found the various lists of Arp galaxies prepared by Dennis Webb on his web page Arp Catalog of Peculiar Galaxies to be especially helpful. We imaged those galaxies that were on the meridian, and as the evening progressed, we imaged all the Arp galaxies in Pegasus, Pisces, Cetus, Fornax, Eridanus, Lepus, Orion, Leo Minor, and Lynx. This took us from 8:15 pm until 3:00 am, and when we finished, we had a total of 101 Arp galaxies imaged.

Then we shut down the telescope and relaxed on lawn chairs to watch the Leonid Meteor Shower. It was spectacular. There were bursts of meteors producing brief intervals with the equivalent of an hourly rate of 1000 meteors per hour. Many of the meteors were fireballs with long-lived trains stretching over a good portion of the sky. Meteors could be seen radiating from Leo in all directions. It was no meteor storm, but the best meteor shower either of us had ever seen.

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