This evening, students have the opportunity to view a unique celestial
event. The Leonid meteor storm will take place tonight around midnight and
should continue through the early morning.
Paul Lewis, head of UT's Physics and Astronomy Outreach, is conducting a
public viewing of the Leonid meteor storm tonight at Big South Fork
National River and Recreation Area. The viewing is set for 10 p.m. at Big
South Fork's Bandy Creek Campground. For directions, call the visitor's
center at 931-879-3625.
"This meteor storm could be the astronomical opportunity of a lifetime,"
Lewis said. "Typical meteor showers bring 20-100 meteors per hour. This
event has the potential for more than 1,000 meteors per hour."
Mark Littmann, Chair of Excellence in science and writing at UT,
authored The Heavens on Fire: The Great Leonid Meteor Storms by
Cambridge Press. Littmann said the meteors are more visible this year
because the Earth and comet Tempel-Tuttle pass at about the same time
through the stream of space dust and debris that causes the shower.
This combination of events would not happen again for 99 years, he
"This could be the most spectacular shooting star show of the century,"
Littmann said. "In 1833 and 1966, Leonid meteors poured down at rates of 40
per second. "No one knows for sure how many will be seen this time, but it
will be the last, best opportunity for a long time."
Littmann is currently in Portugal for a better view of the event.
To best observe the event at home or on campus, the UT Astronomy
Information line recommends finding a dark portion of the sky around
midnight. For more information contact Paul Lewis at 974-7815.
Unique meteor shower to light up November sky
Published: Wed Nov 17, 1999 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 02:03 p.m.