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Grasslands Observatory:   Meteors


The Leonids at the Grasslands Observatory November 18-19, 2002

The night was clear and cold (~2 degrees Celsius), but the Moon was very bright, being nearly full. The Leonid Shower was good but far from the meteor storm predicted. Its performance was poor in comparison with 2001 and 1998. There were fewer meteors, and they were much fainter overall. There were no fireballs. The shower was most intense from 10:30 to 11:00 UT.

James McGaha and our guests estimated the hourly rate was probably 100-150 at this time. Prior to this peak, the rate was considerably less than that. The images below were taken with a new Nikon D100 digital camera set at ASA 1600. The images of the observatory and the observers were taken with a 2.5 second exposure through Phil Farnam's 20 mm f/2.8 Nikon lens. While these images look like daylight photos, they were taken with the light of the Moon. Notice the stars in the sky!

The first GIF image shows meteors radiating from Leo. It consists of ten 30-second exposures with the 20 mm Nikon lens set at f/3.5. On the animated GIF, the Sickle of Leo is present in the lower left hand corner. Nearby is Jupiter. The second animated GIF image shows a 5.5 x 4.0 degree field of the sky to the West of Leo. It was taken by James McGaha with an ST-237 CCD camera with an attached 50 mm f/1.4 lens. Six thirty-second exposures were put together to show a series of Leonids.


The Grasslands Observatory ~ 11:00 pm MST. Jupiter rising over the Eastern horizon. Group Photo at 2:00 am MST November 19, 2002 The Rizk family
Getting ready for meteor imaging Phil's Imaging Platform Phil Farnam getting ready for imaging

Leonids 2002 Animated GIF Image 1

Leonids 2002 Animated GIF Image 2

The Leonids at the Grasslands Observatory November 17-18, 2001

There was scattered haze and light clouds which hindered the viewing. Nevertheless, the Leonids were spectacular. James McGaha and I and our guests saw continuous meteors from 9:40 UT until sunrise. The shower was most intense between 10 and 11 UT. At times, I could see 2 meteors per second, and I guess the hourly rate averaged 1-2000 with brief bursts equaling a rate of 7-8000 per hour.

There were many fireballs and many long lasting trains. The number of fireballs was less than in prior Leonid showers, but this was the best meteor shower I have ever seen. The meteor images below were taken with Kodak ASA 400 print film with exposures of ~ 15 minutes. The negatives were scanned and converted into TIff files.

The Orion and Aldeberan fireballs images were taken by myself and James McGaha with a 50 mm f/1.4 lens. We piggybacked a total of 4 cameras onto the side of the 24-inch telescope at the Grasslands Observatory. The Aldeberan fireball image shows Aldeberan and Saturn at the top of the image, the fireball in the lower right hand corner, and Betelgeuse in the lower left hand corner. The Orion meteor images were taken with a 20 mm f/4 lens. The wide angle image was taken with a 17 mm f/3.5 lens. The images of our guests were taken by James McGaha with a digital camera.

Aldeberan Fireball Betelgeuse Fireball Orion Meteors
Tim and Telescope
Orion Fireball Wide Angle View  
Derald Nye's Set-up Derald Nye with Digital Camera The Rizk Family
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