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In 1966 I got up at ~4 a.m. one cold November morning to scan the skies. The Leonid meteor stream was due to have a strong peak, as it does every 33+ years. I crept into my back yard (or more precisely, my Mother's back yard; I was 14 years old) and saw nothing much: a faint streak or two during a few minutes of shivering. So I went back to bed and fell asleep.

Of course, an hour later the Leonids erupted in a blitzkrieg of activity, with many hundreds or even thousands of meteors visible per second --- a spectacular downpour unmatched in recorded history. The newspaper boys and other early risers witnessed it; I didn't.

So this year (and in fact for the past couple of years) I've tried to recover from that mistake. The 2001 forecasts for a meteor storm predicted 5 a.m. in my time zone. I rose this morning at 0300, threw on a coat, went out, saw a couple of fast bright streaks in five minutes, and crawled back to bed. But this time I set my alarm. At 0400 I was up again, but was rewarded with only one meteor for my troubles. At 0500, it was better --- maybe a dozen Leonids shot by during my time outside. By 0600 a thick fog moved in, and my observations were over.

Maybe next year? Or perhaps 2033? I'm patient ...

TopicScience - TopicPersonalHistory - Datetag20011118

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