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Meteors - November 17, 2006, 12:27 PM

Strong Leonid Meteor Shower Expected This Weekend
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 14 November 2006
02:49 pm ET

The annual Leonid meteor shower could produce a strong outburst this weekend for residents of eastern North America and Western Europe.
A brief surge of activity is expected begin around 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 18. In Europe, that corresponds to early Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. The outburst could last up to two hours.
At the peak, people in these favorable locations could see up to 150 shooting stars per hour, or more than two per minute.
"We expect an outburst of more than 100 Leonids per hour," said Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. Cooke notes that the shooting stars during this peak period are likely to be faint, however, created by very small meteoroid grains.
Elsewhere people will see the typically enjoyable Leonid display of a few meteors each hour, weather permitting and assuming dark skies away from city lights [Top 10 Leonids Facts].
Ancient debris
The Leonids are bits of debris left behind by repeated passages through the inner solar system of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Each November, Earth crosses various trails of debris, which have spread out over centuries and millennia. Dense debris trails have caused incredible meteor storms in years, past, notably 1998 through 2002 [Images from 2001: Gallery 1, 2, 3, 4].
Top 10

Leonid Meteor Shower Facts
Since then the show has been back to normal. But recent computer modeling suggests a brief outburst.
"For parts of Europe, Africa and eastern North America, a far more prolific Leonid show could be in the offing this year," said Joe Rao, SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist.
This year is not expected to be as memorable as some but well worth a look, astronomers say. The Leonids are known for producing bright fireballs, which could occur at any time.
The Leonids are so-named because they appear to emanate from Leo. The meteors can race across the sky in any direction, but trace each one back and it'll point to Leo.
Other opportunities
Unfortunately for viewers on the U.S. West Coast, the peak occurs before Leo rises. Outside of the expected peak, the best time to watch for Leonids is in the pre-dawn hours, when the constellation Leo is high in the sky.
The Leonids are actually underway already, ramping up gradually to the peak. The event continues for several days after the peak. So any morning during this time could offer up a handful of meteors each hour. Other shooting stars from other sources typically grace the sky at low rates, too.
Flurries of enhanced activity can come at any time. Cooke suggests taking a look in the pre-dawn hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Up to 10 shooting stars per hour are possible any of these mornings.
How to watch
Precise prediction of meteor showers is an infant science, so those in position to observe the possible outburst should plan to head out a half-hour before the predicted peak, allowing eyes time to adjust to the dark, and stay out for up to a half hour after the expected peak.
No special equipment is needed. Telescopes and binoculars are of no use.
A lounge chair or blanket and warm clothes are all you need [meteor watching tips]. Find a dark location with a clear view of the Eastern horizon. Lie back, face East, and scan as much of the sky as you can . You never know exactly where a Leonid will appear.


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November 17, 2006, 12:37 PM

Despite Near-Misses, Meteorites Are Low Risk
By Wil Milan
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 07:00 am ET
10 August 2000

In all of recorded human history, no one has ever been killed by a meteor. But there have been a number of people struck by them, as well as some who were nearly struck, along with many cases of damage to animals and property.
Some examples:
  • On November 30, 1954, Alabama housewife Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her couch when she was awakened by a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor that crashed through the roof of her house, bounced off a piece of furniture and struck her in the hip, causing a large bruise.
  • On October 9, 1992,
  • a large fireball was seen streaking over the eastern United States, finally exploding into many pieces. In Peekskill, New York, one of the pieces struck a Chevrolet automobile owned by Michelle Knapp. Knapp was not in the car at the time, but heard the crash and ran out to her driveway to find a hole punched clear through the trunk of her car and a warm 26-pound (12-kilogram) meteorite lying under the vehicle. But things turned out well in the end -- her old and rather run-down automobile instantly became a collectors item and later sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
  • On June 21, 1994, Jose Martin of Spain was driving with his wife near Madrid when a 3-pound (1.4-kilogram) meteor crashed through his windshield, bent the steering wheel and ended up in the back seat. Martin suffered a broken finger while his wife was uninjured.
There have also been incidents of buildings being struck and animals being killed. In 1860, in Ohio, a horse reportedly died after being struck by a meteor. In 1911 a dog was killed in Egypt. But compared with the number of horses, dogs and housewives killed or struck by myriad other objects and collisions over that time, being clobbered by a meteor is an extremely remote possibility.


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November 17, 2006, 12:47 PM

good post ben, but remember this, statistically, the chance of dying due to meteroid/asteroid impact is higher than many, many other things...true, a significant impact may only occur every 10-100 million years, but if it kills everything...you have roughly a 1:1,000,000 chance of dying from an asteroid impact in your life...more likely than dying in a plane crash, sobering though, no?

oh, fun fact of the day:
meteoroid: a small celestial body still in space
meteor: a small celestial body re-entering through an atmosphere (still in flight)
meteorite: a small celestial body after impact


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November 17, 2006, 01:25 PM

yea... i hate meteors...


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November 17, 2006, 07:21 PM

nice find! i will definately be out!


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November 17, 2006, 11:34 PM

who care's you will die when your time comes or if you ride a sport bike you will die sooner.
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