Three Fathoms Observatory
Stewart Yeung








                                                                                                                                                                                               Life Contemplation

Leonid Meteor Shower 2001 (5 September 2012)






Amid the spectacles in observational astronomy, meteor showers, solar eclipses and aurora are the three phenomena that you shouldn't miss during your lifetime.

I and my wife watched the Leonid Meteor Shower one clear night back in November 2001, the best show in recent decades. We were on the rooftop of a village house in Sai Kung, Hong Kong(the site of the Three Fathoms Observatory now), under fairly dark sky(nothing like the really dark sky in rural US,Chile or Hawaii, I must concede). We first saw a really bright (like a meteorite) fire ball at low altitude. This appetizor fuelled our enthusiasm and we eagerly awaited the next ones. We decided to point at it, count and shout the number out loud whenever we saw one. The following ones were much dimmer but nevertheless we counted around 30 or so scattering in the sky. The brighter ones left white trails in the sky which lasted quite a while. My wife felt sleepy soon and went downstairs to sleep. I held tight to this lifetime spectacle and stayed watching the whole night until dawn, when I saw a few more meteors seemingly falling vertically down towards the dawning Eastern horizon. What a scene! That was an unforgettable life experience. I have not watched any good meteor shower ever since as the intensity of the subsequent shows were much lower and without a really dark sky, it would have been futile to wait for a whole night.

The Leonid meteor shower (called the Leonids) occurs when the meteoroid stream of particles left from the passages of the comet Tempel-Tuttle impact the Earth at 72 km/s. The stream comprises solid particles ejected by the comet as its frozen gases evaporateunder the heat of the Sun.

Here is a shared video by Wedgewu showing the best of the shots of the Leonids in 2001 :

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