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(IAAC) Leonids from Southern New England (no science)




I arrived at Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown, Rhode Island
(almost sea level) at about 9:30 pm on Saturday evening. There were
approximately a dozen people already there with their lounge chairs set
up and their early morning snacks ( survival food ) within arm's reach.

 The usual FDO staff were on hand, Les, Joe, Doug, Dave, Steve, Ernie
and Marcie, as well as some of the Skyscrapers crew, Hank with his 20
inch Dob, Jack and Delores among others. There were also several people
with telescopes.

Steve had his 12 inch Meade set up and  up until midnight we observed a
few objects, M42, Jupiter and the GRS, Saturn, split Rigel, and the
Eskimo aka the O. Hardy Nebula, and of course a couple other objects
that I always seem to forget. Several times before Midnight the night
sky was "Ripped Open"  by  bright fireballs streaking overhead from the
North East. It was obvious that the evening was not going to be the
typical observing session. With the appearance of the Leonids, meteor
viewing and socializing was going to be the main fun of the evening.

By midnight the troops were settled into their recliners munching on
brownies and drinking warm beverages in the dropping New England  temps,
as the first of the meteors whizzed by.  First one then several bright
balls of light flashed with smokey tails. The early arrivals came in
small swarms of two or three, with waits of several minutes before the
next group of "Wow" inspiring flaming night birds arrived. It seemed
that each and every meteor was silvery white or shades of blue or green
with streaming tails following close behind. Every once in awhile a
stray "shooting star" would come from the West on what seemed to be a
collision course with meteors that were arriving from the East, thus
creating conversation among us who were wrapped in blankets to fend off
the cold, of a great "Ping Pong" match in the black morning sky.

By 3:30 am, the number of meteor watchers on the ground had reached some
where between 85 to 100 people, and meteors were falling at 10 or 12  at
a time with no real long lulls between sightings.  We had a spectacular
explosion of an emerald green fire ball that shattered the sky above our
heads that left its train in the sky for over 10 minutes. Many other
meteors left long persistent trains stretching southward into the heart
of Orion or leaving their graffiti like markings around Jupiter and
Sirius.

As Leo got higher and the meteor storm reached its peak, brilliant
displays of speeding light dashed out of Leo in all the directions of
the compass, many charging in straight lines running away from each
other. Observers huddled in their sleeping bags in the frosty morning
soon forgot about their cold feet and sleepy eyes as the "dance of fire"
made its last "swing your partner" before the Sun  sent the band home.

At 5:30, the sky to the East was getting brighter and most of us stood
up to turn 180 degrees to face the darker part of the sky.  To my
amazement I found myself turning myself a full 360 degrees watching
meteors falling in groups of approximately 10 or 12 at every place I
looked. It was raining meteors over the horizon in Southern New England.

Just before 6 am we observed an irdium flare that was a mag -8.
(brighter than Jupiter) It appeared out of nowhere and disappeared just
as fast as it appeared.  At 6:15 am the sky was turning blue to the East
and Southeast, and it was still raining fireballs. It was wonderful to
feel so good with so little sleep.

Stars in your eyes,
Barry Martasian

http://community.webtv.net/Timetrav2/TIMETRAVELERS

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