What is the best way to view the upcoming Leonids meteor shower? Will everyone be able to see it? Might it be a dud?
Well, according to :
- The Leonids approach the Earth at a declination of about 22 degrees. If your latitude is less than 22 degrees (or in the Southern Hemisphere), look to the northeast; the further south you are, the more the meteors will appear to be coming from the north. If your latitude is greater than 22 degrees, look to the southeast; the further north of 22 degrees you are, the more the meteors will look to be arriving from the south. Look about halfway up the horizon towards either the northeast (if you're south of 22 degrees) or the southeast (if you're north of 22 degrees); if you are looking straight up, you can miss many of the meteors. Be alert! The Leonids are moving very fast with respect to the Earth (~71 km/sec), so the meteor streaks that we can see go quickly. Places with dark skies away from city lights are the best 1locations.
Based on my personal experience, the darker the sky the better. Two years ago I saw a few spectacular ones in my neighborhood, but in just two years the light pollution has gotten so bad that I'm seriously considering driving tens of miles out into the country.
As for it being a "dud," the models suggest the contrary. "Several models are predicting two significant peaks: one over the United States (especially towards the west) beginning about 3-4 am EST and lasting until 6-7 am EST. The maximum, according to these models, will occur around 5 am EST. The level of activity for this peak could be as much as 2000 meteors per hour." 
I see no reason to duplicate any more of the excellent content at the two external links that are already cited. <>< tbc
But couldn't you include some of this info in the article itself? Some of it is "news" rather than encyclopedia info, but some of it is encyclopedia info. --LMS
I just spent an hour (2am-3am, Nov 18, 2001, Pacific Standard Time, North San Jose, California) outside in my backyard simply looking up. It was a wonderful sight. Shooting stars came down as frequently as just a few seconds apart. But usually the frequency was around 30 seconds apart. My visibility was rather limited being surrounded by my neighbor's houses. So I could only see those shot overhead, I might have missed many that shot across the horizon. The longest streak I saw in the past hour had a view angle of over 45 degree. The brighter one looked like a speck of fire flying across the sky.
I heard on the radio (KGO 810) yesterday that the Leonids is expected to be a meteor "storm" this year with perhaps 5000 per hour. I estimated around 200 per hour based on the rate I personally observed. However, since I only could see perhaps 1/3 of the sky from my backyard, the estimate could be adjusted to 600 per hour. Also the point of origin was quite low in the sky, i.e. perhaps half of the meteor went below the horizon, so I may adjust my estimate to 1200 per hour entering the atmosphere. What I observed tonight was much less than the hype. Nevertheless, it was quite a sight.
Why doesn't everyone add their view of the 2001 Leonid shower, and afterwards we should be able to assemble a fairly comprehensive summary of their intensity in various locations around the world (at least the English-speaking part of it).
I viewed the Leonids from just north of Melbourne, Australia at approximately 3am local time till about 4am (had to work tomorrow). the best view I got was at 3, where bursts of 3 or 4 meteors every minute or so were easily visible. They usually appeared to be coming from the north-east and travelling west across the north sky. Whilst bright enough to be very easily visible, none were so bright as to significantly illuminate the ground, unlike some other reports. --Robert Merkel
- The meteors appeared to come from the Constellation Leo hence the name Leonids. Actually, the tangent of the earth's orbit around the Sun at this time of the year is pointing at Leo hence the space debris enter the earths atmosphere seeming from the direction of Leo. The meteors are phenominon in earth's atmosphere which is unrelated to the stars of Leo lightyears away. So the position in the sky really depends on the viewer's location. They seemed to come from north-east w.r.t. Melbourne, Australia. When I watched from North California, they seemed to radiate from the south-east towards all directions.
Calgary, Canada. I viewed the shower from an urban park, about magnitude 3 stars visible. (Orion's Nebula not discernible.) I counted about 100 meteors between November 18 3am and 4am local time (-7 GMT). About 10 were Wow!; left smoke trails. -- BillMorrow
- smoke trails!!?? Yes, I also saw many of them leaving a trail of light that was wider than just a streak which last for about a second. Smoke trails may be a very appropriate description though I don't believe that were smoke at all. I believe they were ionization in the atmosphere that radiate some secondary light for a brief second. Any scientists or astronomers care to comment on this phenomonon?
Coachella Valley Preserve, California - The preserve is an oasis in the desert outside Palm Springs, so we had a very dark sky, but there was moderate cloud cover which hampered viewing somewhat. There were as many as 4 meteors in eyeshot on a few occassions, and at peak we saw probably a sustained 5 or 6 per minute. There were a handful that were so bright they seemed to light the sky for just a flash. Most were from the north-east, but the sky was full of meteors in every direction, so it was difficult to see them all. - TimShell