A Fine Leonid Meteor Shower
This year's Leonid meteor shower put on a fine display. We got up about 1:00am (CST) on the November 18th and stayed up till dawn. We counted almost a thousand meteors before dawn lightened the eastern sky. We also listened to the deep hooting of our resident Great Horned Owls and the yips of coyotes. We took the photograph below around 3:00am. Also shown is the bright star cluster Praesepe, the "Beehive Cluster," in the constellation Cancer.
A bright Leonid meteor steaks past the bright star Alphard in the constellation Hydra (bottom right corner)
Our best hour was between 4:00am and 5:00am. During that time we saw several "bursts" of 3 or 4 bright meteors per second, and our count for that hour was around 500 meteors. It was one of the finest meteor showers we have seen.
Great Horned Owl Duets
Late fall is a great time to listen to Great Horned Owl courtship calls. Though the best times are around sunset and sunrise, you often can hear them calling back and forth all night long. Although the female is larger, the male has the deeper (and slower) call. By January the calling decreases as they begin their nesting season.
An Occultation of Saturn
Providing we have clear skies on the night of November 30th we will get a chance to see the moon pass in front of the planet Saturn. For our area Saturn should disappear behind the limb of the moon around 6:30pm and should reappear around 7:30pm CST. Saturn's rings are near their maximum tilt and should be a pretty sight in any small telescope.
Finding Uranus with Binoculars
If you did not get a chance earlier in the month to see the planet Uranus in binoculars (see 11/05/01 Nature Notes) you have a second chance on November 30th, using the bright planet Mars as a guide. Scroll down to the bottom of the binocular finder charts for November and you will find a chart for the 30th. If you have your binoculars pointed in the right direction, you should have no trouble seeing Uranus. Good luck!