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November 17th and 18th

From Northern California...

The California Meteor Society in conjunction with
the NASA Ames Leonid MAC (Multi Aircraft) mission have compiled
the following information:
(this site give instructions for plotting and observing the Leonids)
(this site is all about the Leonid Multi-Aircraft Campaign of 1999, and also a link to online and real-time observations of this mission)

Would you like some background information about meteors? Here it is!

How about a summary of what the California Meteor Society is doing?


South Bay

The California Meteor Society will be conducting organized Leonid observing
at two south bay sites. Volunteers are welcome, and needed. There will be will be
experienced Meteor observers at both sites.

Near Mount Hamilton - Holler Observatory:
One group planned for Holler Observatory on Mount Hamilton

The Madonna Center, on Mount Madonna:
Contact for directions and instructions.

The California Meteor Society's observing campaign will be
Wednesday night / Thursday Morning 11/16 - 11/17 and
Thursday night / Friday morning 11/17 - 11/17

Pinnacles National Monument
On Wednesday Night and Thursday Morning,
November 16th and 17th, join Ranger Chad Moore
and members of the San Jose Astronomical
Association (SJAA) for Meteor Observing. for directions and a phone number.

Fremont Peak and Henry Coe State Parks are good dark sites for the public to observe meteors. For directions, please see on the San Jose Astronomical Associations's website, and stay tuned to the California Meteor page at for updates .

Local contacts:

Peter Jenniskens
The SETI Institute e-mail:
NASA Ames Research Center
Mail Stop 239-4,
Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000
tel: (650) 604-3086
fax: (650) 604-1088


East Bay:

Lawrence Hall of Science:No actual meteor watching is planned
LHS advises meteor watchers to go to a better observing site
with a suitably dark sky as indicated by other entries on this page. Planetarium shows at LHS are currently (on weekends):
Mysteries of Missing Matter at 1:00 and 2:15 pm
Constellations Tonight at 3:30pm

Chabot Observatory and Science Center
November 5th and 6th, and November 12th and 13th -
"The Leonid Meteor Shower"
"The Sky Tonight" Planetarium Show
Admission: $5.00 Adults, $4.50 Senior Citizens, $3.50 youth, ages 6-17.
Chabot Observatory "Leonid Meteor Shower Watch". Remote site. Will
the Leonids storm in 1999? Wednesday/Thursday,
midnight 'till dawn

Easbay Astronomical Society (EAS)
Eastbay Astronomical Society will join Chabot Observatory & Science
Center to host a public meteor watch at Briones Regional Park from
midnight until dawn on Thursday morning, November 17 and also on
Friday morning November 18, 1999.

Toreach the sky party, take the Orinda exit from Highway 24 and proceed
north on Camino Pablo/San Pablo Dam Road to Bear Creek Road.
Turn right and go to the Briones Park entrance, on the right after four miles.
The viewing area is to the left, shortly beyond the entrance gate,
which will remain open throughout the night so that you may arrive late or leave early.
You'll want to bring a blanket or lounge chairs,
and perhaps be fortified with a thermos of hot chocolate.
If you bring a flashlight, please have it covered with red plastic;
and please dim your headlights in the immediate area.


North Bay and beyond

Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society
Leonid Shower Viewing - The SVAS will be hosting a special
Leonid Meteor Shower viewing on the evening of Wednesday,
November 17th, at the Auburn Dam Overlook, from sunset to sunrise.

This event is open to the general public as well as SVAS members.
Inclement weather will mean cancellation of this special viewing.

NASA will be carrying our Astrovid 2000 video cam in its
Meteor Balloon on Nov 18 for a live web and TV broadcast of the Leonids at:

Meteor Storm History....

The following is from:
The Geography Of The Heavens and Class-Book Of Astronomy,
by Elijah H. Burritt, A.M.,
greatly enlarged, revised and illustrated, by H. Mattison, A.M.,
New York, published by Mason Brothers, 1863

"The number of shooting stars observed in a single
night, though variable, is commonly very small. There are however,
several instances on record of them falling in "showers" - when every
star in the firmament seems loosened from its sphere, and moving in
lawless flight from one end of the heavens to the other.

"As early as 472, in the month of November, a phenomenon of this
kind took place near Constantinople. As Theophanes relates, "the sky
appeared to be on fire," with the coruscations of the flying meteors.
"A shower of stars exactly similar took place in Canada, between the
third and the fourth of July, 1814, and another in Montreal, in
November, 1819. In all of these cases, a residuum, or black dust , was
deposited upon the surface of the waters, and upon the roofs of
buildings, and other objects. In the year 1810, "inflamed substances",
it is said, fell into, and around lake Van, in Armenia, which stained
the water of a blood color, and cleft the earth in various places. On
the 5th of September, 1819, a like phenomenon was seen if Moravia.
History furnishes many more instances of meteoric showers, depositing a
red dust in some places, so plentiful as to admit of chemical analysis.

"The commisioner of our government who was sent out to fix the boundary
between the Spanish possessions in North America and the United States,
witnessed a very extrodinary flight of shooting stars, which filled the whole
atmosphere from Cape Florida to the West India Islands. This grand
phenomenon took place the 12th of November, 1799, and is thus
described: - 'I was called up,' says Mr. Ellicott, 'about 3 o'clock in
the morning, to see the shooting stars, as they are called. The
phenomenon was grand and awful. The whole heavens appeared as if
illuminated with skyrockets, which disappeared only by the light of the
sun, after daybreak. The meteors, which at any one instant of time
appeared as numerous as the stars, flew in all possible directions
except from the earth, toward which they all inclined, more or less, and
some of them descended perpendicularly over the vessel we were in, so
that I was in constant expectation of their falling on us.'

"Mr. Ellicott further states that his thermometer, which had been at
80¡ F for the first 4 days preceding, fell to 56¡ about 4 o'clock AM,
and that nearly at the same time, the wind changed from the south to the
northwest, from wence it blew with great violence for 3 days without

"The celebrated Humbolt...[snip]...speaks of the
phenomenon:-'Toward the morning of the 13th of November, 1799, we
witnessed a most extraordinary scene of shooting meteors. Thousands of
bolides, and falling stars succeeded each other during 4 hours. Their
directionwas very regular from north to south. From the beginning of the
phenomenon there was not a space in the firmament, equal in extent to 3
diameters of the moon, which was not filled every instant with bolides
or falling stars. All the meteors left luminous traces, or
phosphorescent bands behind them, which lasted 7 or 8 seconds."

[snip] "But the most sublime phenomenon of shooting stars, of which the
world has furnished any record, was witnessed throughout the United
States on the morning of the 13th of November, 1833. The entire extent
of this astonishing exhibit has not been precisely asertained, but it
covered no inconsiderable portion of the earth's surface. It has been
traced from longitude 61¡, in the Atlantic Ocean, to longitude 100¡ in
Central Mexico, and from the North American lakes to the West Indies. It
was not seen, however, anywhere in Europe, nor in South America, nor in
any part of the Pacific Ocean yet heard from."

Information collector: Jane Houston,
California Meteor Society and researcher on the NASA MAC '99 mission

Page web-posted by Alan Gould--Lawrence Hall of Science