October 23, 2017

Will the Leonids Perform in 2009?

This week marks the return of the Space Shuttle Atlantis to orbit for its second to last flight, as well as the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. This is the notorious shower that has produced storm level peaks in access of 10,000 per hour in 1966 and 1833. This storm emanates from material shed by comet 51P Temple-Tuttle, and generally peaks once every 33 years or so around November 17th. Most years, the Leonids are a feeble 10 meteors per hour shower barely warranting attention.

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Astronomical Observing in the Military.

The military has enabled me to observe astronomical phenomena from some unique locales. My interest in astronomy has waxed and waned (pun intended) all of my life. I’ve basically been looking at the sky since I’ve been old enough to look at anything. [Read more...]

The Coolest Thing I Ever Saw: The 1998 Leonid Meteor Shower

Late 1998 was a busy time for me. As a Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force, I was old enough to have some responsibility in the form of supervising my own load crew but still low enough down the totem pole that virtually all of supervision sat squarely above me. I was stationed at Eielson Air Force base in Alaska with the 18th Fighter Squadron as a Aircraft Armament Systems specialist, a fancy way of saying that I loaded bombs. When I wasn’t destroying things, Astronomy was my main passion. Astronomy in Alaska was really a seasonal sport; winter was blistering cold, down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit and summer was constant daylight. This limited dark sky observing to about two month windows around either equinoxes. [Read more...]