19 November 2009

Leonids let down?

While it seems many were disappointed by the Leonids display, DK of Dee Kay Dot As Gee seemed to have found the perfect place in Singapore for great sightings!

He chose a dark seashore and shared on his blog: "At around 4 plus, there was this huge meteor that appears in the eastern sky. Looks like a fireball in the sky which lasted at least 10 to 15 seconds. It was a beautiful sight. All the waiting paid off. And at the end of the day, I lost count of the number of meteors that I saw. I think around 20 plus." He has links to other sightings in Singapore too.

And Ykchia shares more photos and sightings on the NightEvents by Video Patrol - Singapore blog.

Meanwhile, the news reports suggest most people around Asia were disappointed mainly due to cloudy weather.

Alas, I failed to stay up for the event. I was just too tired from the recent field trips.

Did you see any meteors?

Thousands gathered to witness Leonids Meteor showers
Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia 18 Nov 09;
SINGAPORE: Thousands of stargazers all over the world gathered on Wednesday to view what was said to be a spectacular show of celestial proportions.

The Leonid Meteor showers were expected to rival the massive display of shooting stars in 1833 when the entire sky was lit up by thousands of meteors.

In Singapore, stargazers gathered for the show in the wee hours of the morning.

Some came prepared with telescopes, while others came empty handed but armed with wishes.

"(We wish) for a better year ahead, probably good results for our O-levels and world peace," said one.

"We're 16 and we just finished our O-levels... hope to make some wishes...." said another.

This year, the cosmic spectacle can be seen from all over the planet but astronomers say Asia has the best viewing spots.

But many parts of Asia, including Singapore, experienced cloudy weather.

Hence, instead of a massive fireworks display the sky gazers were expecting, there were sparklers.

Scientists in Singapore say that about 14 shooting stars were visible from 4.30am to 5.30am. - CNA/ir


Meteor showers in Asia disappoint
Yahoo News 18 Nov 09;
NEW DELHI – Thousands of stargazers across Asia stayed awake overnight to catch a glimpse of what was advertised as an intense Leonid meteor shower, but the show fizzled rather than sizzled for many because of cloudy conditions.

One group of about 30 amateur Indian astronomers saw the meteors light up the sky at the Siriska wildlife sanctuary, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) south of New Delhi — counting 78 during a four-hour period.

"There was no moon in the sky, which is good for observation," said Yogeshwar Kanu Aggarwal, a member of the Space Science Popularization Association of Communications and Educators. "We could see flashes of light for almost 10 seconds."

Leonid meteors are bits of debris from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle and were named after the constellation Leo, from which they appear to originate. NASA scientists had projected there would be up to 300 raining down every hour, compared to a typical night when there are about eight an hour.

Night owls in Manila, however, were left staring at the lights of passing airplanes because of cloudy conditions. More than 1,000 Thais who camped out in a parking lot on the outskirts of Bangkok had better luck, spotting 52 over several hours.

"The sky was clear and there were many meteors around 4 a.m.," said Suranand Supawannakij, director of the Science Center for Education in Rangsit, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Bangkok. "They came from many directions. I am always excited seeing a meteor shower."

The Leonid meteors travel at 156,000 miles (251,000 kilometers) per hour. They consist mostly of dust and ice, and evaporate long before they reach the ground, so "you can go outside and watch the Leonid meteor shower without worrying about getting whacked on the head," said scientist Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

When a Leonid meteor storm was first observed in 1833, Cooke said it must have seemed like something out of the apocalyptic saga "2012." More than 30,000 meteors an hour rained down on an unsuspecting public, sparking panic and fears of the end of the world, he said.

"They were seeing 10 meteors per second all over the sky," he said. "You read newspaper accounts and robbers were returning what they stole because they wanted to be right with God. People were praying in churches, in their yards."

This time around, the meteor shower was greeted with the oohs and ahhs that one hears at fireworks displays rather than screeches of fear.

"I've seen meteors before but this was different," said Akradech Lekkla, a 39-year-old taxi driver who joined several whiskey-drinking Thais in Ayutthaya, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Bangkok.

"It looked like it was raining meteors," he said. "They came in so quick that if you didn't pay attention you missed them."

In India, a cloudy sky disappointed thousands of stargazers in Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Pawan Sharma, a 36-year-old photographer, could only spot meteors, one of them big enough to be seen streaking across the sky in a window between the clouds.

"It was a momentary thing. It was so disappointing," he said.

In Nepal, cloud and fog cover over much of the Himalayan nation blocked views of the meteors.

Jayanta Acharya, astronomy professor at Katmandu's Tribhuwan University, said he woke up early to view the meteor shower from the rooftop of his house.

"It was a big event for us and we are all disappointed to have missed it," Acharya said.


Meteor shower 'fails to impress'
BBC News 18 Nov 09;
Stargazers who stayed up throughout the night to witness what was expected to be an intense meteor shower were left disappointed.

The Leonid meteor shower, the best views of which were to have been from Asia, was largely obscured by cloud.

The shower was caused by tiny high-speed particles from the tail of Comet 55 P/Tempel-Tuttle, which was last in the vicinity of the Earth in 1998.

Nasa had projected there would be up to 300 meteors raining down every hour.

On a typical night there are about eight per hour. In many of the viewing hotspots, however, hopeful visitors were let down by the weather.

Reports from the Philippines, Nepal and India were of cloudy conditions blocking a view of the night sky.

But there were a few stories of stargazing success.

Up to 1,000 people who camped out in a car park on the outskirts of Bangkok in Thailand spotted 52 meteors over several hours.

One group of amateur astronomers in India at the Siriska wildlife sanctuary, south of New Delhi reported counting 78 during a four-hour period.

"There was no moon in the sky, which is good for observation," Yogeshwar Kanu Aggarwal, a member of the Space Science Popularization Association of Communications and Educators, told the Associated Press news agency.

"We could see flashes of light for almost 10 seconds as bright as star Sirius."

North American observers stayed up from the early hours of the morning until dawn on Tuesday 17 November to view the shower's peak.

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