(meteorobs) NAMN Notes: February 2000

NAMN Notes: February 2000


NAMN Notes is a monthly newsletter produced by the North American Meteor
Network, and is available both via email, and on the NAMN website at:
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs


1. Meteor Newsletters...
2. February Showers...
3. Reading for a Winter's Night...
4. 1999 Leonid Results...
5. Recent Observations, January 2000...
6. Upcoming Meetings...
7. For more info...

1. Meteor Newsletters...

Have you signed up yet for any of the printed meteor newsletters for 2000?
Now is the time to check out several of these newsletters, and either sign
up to give them a try, or renew for this coming year!

"Meteor Trails" is the bimonthly newsletter published by the AMS, the
American Meteor Society, and is a real deal at only $8 US for the year. To
get it, send a money order payable to 'AMS' to Karl Simmons, AMS Treasurer,
3859 Woodland Heights, Callahan, FL 32011, USA. Ask for 'associate
membership' which means the newsletter only. It contains articles on
observing, star maps showing meteor radiants, and a great meteor calendar in
chart form each issue showing both major and minor showers.

"WGN" is the bimonthly publication of the IMO, the International Meteor
Organization, and is available as part of membership which is $25 US. To get
this, get a money order payable to 'Mr. Robert Lunsford', and mail it to Mr.
Robert Lunsford, IMO Secretary-General, 161 Vance Street, Chula Vista, CA
91910, USA. This is a wonderful publication. It has articles written by
amateurs all over the world - on meteor observations, the interesting
history behind the various showers, and analysis of data with easy to read
graphs of meteor rates. It also has very interesting personal articles as
well - on travels by amateur groups to observe showers around the globe, and
such lighthearted reading as meteors in literature and poetry. It is a great
publication, and well worth the expense of membership!

2. February Showers...

There are no major meteor showers in February. However, there are several
minor showers, and a special alert has been announced to watch for activity
from a fairly new possible meteor source.

The alert concerns possible activity from a suspected radiant near the star
Xi Bootis, around an estimated date of February 6th. This means that the
suspected radiant area is not quite halfway between the star Arcturus and
the head of Serpens Caput. This activity was first seen by George Gliba
from the Florida Keys in 1997, where he noted 14 meteors in about 2.5
hours. On subsequent nights, he plotted additional meteors, and estimated
average brightness of them as being about 3.6, and their velocity about
average. With a new moon on February 5th this year, and a weekend as well,
all observations - visual, photographic, video - are encouraged. If it
looks like you will be clouded out on the weekend, try for the nights before
and after the weekend - observations those nights would be very valuable as
well in trying to obtain more data on this possible shower!

The Alpha Centaurids (ACE) reach a maximum on February 8th this year, just
past new moon. Their radiant is at 210 degrees, ie. RA 14h00m, Dec -59,
which is in Centaurus, way down to the right of Scorpius and Lupus.
Activity lasts until about February 21st. These meteors are just a bit
faster than average, with a velocity of about 56 km/sec. At maximum, the
ZHR, zenithal hourly rate, is about 6 meteors per hour with the unaided eye,
although occasionally rates can exceed 25 per hour. This shower is noted
for its bright and often colorful fireballs, and meteor trains - so is worth
watching even from less favored northern latitudes. The IMO has asked for as
many observations as possible for this shower this year, as it peaks just
past new moon.

The Delta Leonids (DLE) reach a maximum on February 25th, just before last
quarter moon. The radiant will be at 168 degrees, ie. RA 11h12m, Dec +16,
just about on top of the star theta Leonis, the bright star to the right of
Denebola in Leo. This shower is active from about February 15th to March
10th. These meteors are slow, with a velocity of about 23 km/sec. The ZHR,
zenithal hourly rate, is low, even at maximum, with only about 2 meteors
visible per hour. Due to their slow velocity, however, these should be
worth waiting for - and quite distinctive. Apparently back in February
1910, a number of observers saw a Delta Leonid meteor that was recorded as
being about 6 times the brightness of Venus. The parent body of this shower
is listed as possibly the asteroid (4450) Pan.

Starting late in the month, around the 25th, we have the Gamma Normids
although these do not reach a maximum until March 13th. In late February,
the radiant is in lower Lupus - on the 28th, at 234 degrees, ie. RA 15h36m,
Dec -52. Their velocity is a bit faster than average, at about 56 km/sec.
The rates will be low in February, as they only reach a ZHR rate of about 8
meteors per hour about March 13th.

The ecliptic meteor activity continues to be the Virginids (VIR), which
started in late January. This shower activity continues until about the
middle of April, with the radiant moving in position as the days go on. On
February 5th, new moon, the radiant will be at about 161 degrees, ie. RA
10h44m, Dec +13, which is about halfway between the stars theta Leonis (also
called Chort) and alpha Leonis (Regulus). Near the end of the month,
February 28th, this radiant will have moved to 178 degrees, ie. RA 11h52m,
Dec +03, which is very near the star beta Virgo. The rates are low, less
than about 5
meteors per hour. These are almost slow meteors, with a velocity of about
30 km/sec.

For help in judging the magnitudes of brighter meteors seen this month, the
brightness of the planets visible are approximately as follows, to the
closest half magnitude:

Venus -4
Jupiter -2.5
Mercury -1 (fading to +1 by month's end)
Saturn +.5
Mars +1

Lastly, don't forget - if you need some handy star charts to mark these
meteor radiants on for use in the field, go to our NAMN website and print
yourself off a set! You might want to explore some of the other resources
on the site as well, such as the NAMN Observing Guide, which answers many
questions for beginners! Check us out at: http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs

3. Reading for a Winter's Night...

Welcome to winter! Perhaps if you live in California or Florida, you are
still getting out most nights to observe meteors. However, if you live in a
northern climate, like this Canadian co-author, you may be looking fondly
out the window at a clear blue sky, and lamenting a windchill reading of -30
to -40 degrees Celsius!

We are used to observing in this weather, right? Wrong. If our temperature
is no worse than about -20 Celsius, things aren't too bad for observing. We
just put on about 3 to 4 layers of winter clothing underneath our down
parkas, and then go out and crawl into our heavy sleeping bags. We then
struggle to keep our eyeglasses from frosting over due to our breathing, and
our little tape recorders warm for recording our meteors. At the end of the
night, we hope our car engines will start, in order to get home.

If it's much colder than about -20 Celsius, or if there is a strong wind
making the effective temperature much colder than that, then it's time to
curl up with a good book, and do some reading on meteors and astronomy!

And, there are indeed some good books out there right now in the bookstores.
Don't just browse through the adult science sections though. I have been
amazed lately at all the excellent books on astronomy and meteors in the
children's section of our local bookstore. Most of these are great reading
for adults too - especially for those new to the sky.

Want to learn the constellations? Check out "Stars" by Herbert Zim and
Robert Baker, a nice pocket-sized Golden Nature Guide with one easy star
chart for each season - backed up by individual constellation maps and
descriptions. This little book has been in print for decades - it's a good
one. A newcomer to the easy star map scene is the book "The Stargazer's
Guide to the Galaxy" by Q.L. Pearce. It is also easy and fun to use.

Do you have children interested in meteors and astronomy? Check out "Let's
Investigate Magical, Mysterious Meteorites" by Madelyn Wood Carlisle. It's
also fun reading for adults! Another recent book is "One Small Square - The
Night Sky" by Donald Silver. It is a delightful introduction to astronomy,
with all kinds of activities for young observers, and has some of the nicest
illustrations in an astronomy book in years.

Want to find out some of the legends behind the constellations? Check out
"The Heavenly Zoo - Legends and Tales of the Stars" by Alison Lurie. This
book is a real treasure. It tells the legends of some of the constellations
in various cultures - Greek, Roman, Balkan, Egyptian, Indian - but very
simply, and with such beautiful colour illustrations, the kind you used to
see in old fairy tale books from years ago.

For those who have learned the constellations, and want to expand their
basic knowledge of the sky, check out "Skyguide - A Field Guide for Amateur
Astronomers" by Mark Chartrand, a Golden Press book. It covers a number of
subjects of interest to meteor observers - such as coordinates in the sky,
orbits, star magnitudes, atmospheric phenomena - besides having sections on
comets and meteors, and detailed constellation maps for binoculars or small

One of the newest meteor books in print is "The Heavens on Fire - The Great
Leonid Meteor Storms" by Mark Littmann. This is available in hardcover, but
has just come out in softcover as well. It is a great history of the
Leonid meteor shower, and is very readable. It tells of Leonid hopes and
observations over the years, gives many personal accounts of those who
studied them and those who observed them, and provides thoughts for the

Interested more in meteorites, ones that have hit the earth? "Rocks from
Space" by O. Richard Norton has just been reprinted in softcover, and is a
superb book - easy to read, lots of great pictures and illustrations. It
covers fireballs, craters, famous impacts, types of rocks that have fallen,
famous meteorite hunters, and origins of meteorites. If you want something
a bit more technical, check out "Meteorites and Their Parent Planets" by
Harry McSween. This is a good book, but better appreciated if you have more
of an interest in rocks and amateur geology.

Lastly, if your interests lean towards reading about major catastrophic
impacts that have altered the planet significantly, there are some great
books out in this area as well. "T. Rex and the Crater of Doom" by Walter
Alvarez gives a wonderful read on the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs,
and how the crater was discovered. "Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets" by
Duncan Steel talks about the past, present, and future of large impacts, in
a broader sense.

So, while you're curled up waiting for clear skies or warmer temperatures,
check out some of these current books. All of the ones listed above are
easily found in softcover, although a number of them are available in
hardcover as well if you inquire. They provide a nice cross-section of
topics to read up on over the winter months!

4. 1999 Leonid Results...

The anticipation of enhanced rates from the periodic Leonid meteor shower
resulted in the busiest period we have ever experienced. The Leonids were
expected to reach maximum on November 18th at about 0200 hours Universal
Time (UT) which favored European longitudes. In order to assist the
International Meteor Organization in determining what was taking place with
the Leonids, we put out calls for observations, with stunning results. Many
observers responded, not only from North America, but from other regions of
the world as well.

In our public outreach efforts, a notice regarding the upcoming shower was
placed at the home page of NAMN. During the week of maximum, our site
received nearly 36,000 hits over a five day period. Requests for information
through emails also increased, which "peaked" at 347 during one 8 hour
period on November 17th! Numerous articles on visual observing were
distributed as well as 38 copies of the NAMN Guide.

Forty-three observers submitted reports during this period. In all, 8,217
Leonids were reported during 243.08 hours of observing. Those who
participated in the Leonid campaign included:

Louis Binder        Robert Lunsford     David Swann
Michael Boschat     Pierre Martin       Richard Taibi
Donghua Chen        Scott McCarley      Honglin Tao
Mark Davis          Norman McLeod       Bryan Turner
Peter Detterline    John Newton         Markku Vanamo
Yuwei Fan           Johnathon Newton    Harry Waldron
William Gannon      Gregg Pasterick     Dan Xia
Fei Gao             Rui Qi              Kim Youmans
George Gliba        Catrin Reulbach     Dongyan Zha
Lew Gramer          William Sager       Jinghui Zhang
Wayne Hally         Brian Shulist       Yan Zhang
Kim Hay             Karl Simmons        Ju Zhao
Robert Hays, Jr.    James Smith         Jin Zhu
Dave Hostetter      Wanfang Song
Wen Kou             Chris Stephan

Leonid meteors were observed every morning beginning on November 10/11 and
lasting till November 19/20. A listing of these observations is posted at
our website. Thanks to all our observers for such a great job!

5. Recent Observations, January 2000...

In an effort to keep the newsletter from growing too large, we will begin to
list only the total observations here. The uncorrected observing periods
that are reported each month will be posted on the NAMN website. For those
wishing additional details as to dates, times, and numbers of meteors
observed, I encourage you to visit the website at
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs

During January, twenty observers contributed 76.44 hours of observations
logging 1,768 meteors. The top producing shower was the Quadrantids with
1,165 meteors followed by the sporadics with 519 meteors. Observers this
month included Ricardo Afonso (Portugal); Jure Atanackov (Slovenia); Ed
Cannon (Texas); Mark Davis (South Carolina); Michael Doyle (Texas); John
Drummond (New Zealand); Bruno Ferreira (Portugal); Robert Gardner
(California); Lew Gramer (Massachusetts); Javor Kac (Slovenia); Kevin
Kilkenny (New Jersey); Mike Linnolt (California and Hawaii); Robert Lunsford
(California); Jose Marques (Portugal); Scott McCarley (Texas); Norman McLeod
(Florida); Trevor Pendleton (United Kingdom); Mihaela Triglav (Slovenia);
Kim Youmans (Georgia) and Jure Zakrajsck (Slovenia). Thanks to all observers
for sending in your reports!

6. Upcoming Meetings...

April 10-14, 2000:
IAU Colloquium 181 on 'Dust in the Solar System and Other Planetary Systems'
will be held at the University of Kent at Canterbury, in the United Kingdom.
This colloquium is the 7th in a series dedicated to studies of
interplanetary dust. Areas to be covered will include such topics as
cometary dust modeling, asteroidal sources of meteoroids, observations of
interplanetary dust from both earth and space, and instrumentation for dust
collection and analysis. Publication of the proceedings is planned after
the meeting. Details are available on the website at:
http://wwwdot ukc.acdot uk/physical-sciences/space/

July 9-12, 2000:
The international conference 'Catastrophic Events and Mass Extinction's:
Impacts and Beyond' will be held at the University of Vienna in Austria.
This is the 4th in a series of meetings on mass extinction's and global
catastrophes, the previous meetings being 1981 and 1988 in Utah, and 1994 in
Houston, Texas. Expected topics include impact events in earth history,
boundary events in geologic time, environmental consequences of impacts,
interpretation of stratigraphic records, and extraterrestrial influences
such as asteroids and comets. The deadline for electronic abstracts is
March 3rd. More information on the conference can be found at:
http://www.lpi.usradot edu/meetings/impact2000/impact2000.2nd.html

September 11-15, 2000:
The international conference 'Space Protection of the Earth - 2000' will be
held in Evpatoriya in the Crimea. This is the 3rd in a series of
international conferences on the protection of the Earth from the threat of
its collision with asteroids and comets, with the prior meetings being held
in Saint Petersburg and Snezhinsk, Russia. Topics will cover characteristics
of asteroids and comets, their risk, detection technologies, man-made means
of influencing dangerous celestial bodies, planetary defense, international
cooperation, prospects for utilizing asteroid and comet resources, and other
issues. The deadline for abstracts is March 1st. For more information,
contact the SPE-2000 Program Committee by email at: spe@asteroids.ru

September 21-24, 2000:
The IMC, International Meteor Conference, of the IMO, the International
Meteor Organization, is being held in Pucioasa, Romania, about 100 km
northwest of Bucharest. It is being organized by the Romanian Society for
Meteors and Astronomy (SARM), in cooperation with the mayoralty of Pucioasa.
Pucioasa can be reached by direct trains and buses from Bucharest, and a
shuttle bus from the Bucharest airport to the conference site is planned.
Accommodation will be provided in double rooms, and meals served at the
restaurant of the hotel close to the conference site. The conference fee
will be 170 DEM. A deposit of at least 100 DEM is requested for those
interested in attending, and a registration form is on the IMO website at
www.imodot net.

7. For more info...

Mark Davis, MeteorObs@charlestondot net
Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, USA
Coordinator, North American Meteor Network

And check out:
NAMN home page:
http://web.infoavedot net/~meteorobs

Back issues of NAMN Notes can be found on-line at the NAMN website, and in
the meteorobs archives at:
http://www.tiacdot net/users/lewkaren/meteorobs
by selecting 'Browse Archive by Month'

To subscribe to the meteor email list or
To find out information on our weekly chat sessions:
Contact Lew Gramer at:

Here's to 'Clear Skies' for February...

February 2000 NAMN Notes co-written
by Mark Davis and Cathy Hall

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