Leonid Meteor Shower 2001 Report

By Don Hodges. 18 November 2001

Our location was to be kept top secret, so that we could have the sky all to ourselves. It was the same place that had gone to see the 2001 Persieds, and during that shower we only had about 3 other people who stopped in the same spot to watch. It was also the spot I had gone to see comet Hyaukutake, which is another story for another file.

My friends and I arrived at our viewing spot at around 11:30 PM local time (PST, GMT 8) and started watching and setting up. There were 5 of us, and we were the only ones there. I jumped out onto the hood of my car and looked to the East. We had driven about 40 miles out of Los Angeles to a relatively dark location. It was very good viewing, with only a few high clouds to the South and the West. The entire night was almost completely cloud-free.

At around 11:36 we saw our first meteor. And this meteor was like none any of use had ever seen. It entered the sky in the East and we watched as it fireballed over our heads and continued to the west. I had to jump off the car to watch it all the way. It finally burned out far in the Western sky. Everyone saw it we all agreed it was the greatest meteor any of us had ever seen. It even beat a very intense fireball I had seen in a 1994 Persied shower.

I was planning on counting meteors, so we called it #1. We started to see meteors every few minutes. By 12:30 AM or so, we had seen approximately 40 meteors. I kept the CD player in my car running. We would be listening to the following CD's: Soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Soundtrack to Star Wars Episode 4 (The original Star Wars movie). Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon. Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here. The last CD in my 6 pack was one I had burned myself, which had a mix of different songs on it.

But alas, my location was no secret. Cars kept pulling off the freeway; no doubt people from LA who wanted to get away from the lights. It was a distraction that would continue up to the very end. So much for my top-secret location.

The pace started to increase, and by about 1:30 AM our count had grown to over 100. We had fun keeping the count of the meteors, which started to fall extremely often. No matter where you looked in the sky, you were bound to see something. We kept counting. My hand picked soundtrack was great, at least for me. That is, when we could hear it. There was a large family of young children who had parked right next to us, and they seemed to have their own agenda. I think the father was the only one who really cared, the rest of his family either just talked or complained about something or other. The funniest though was when he played this one trippy song, which went on as "I like to read, I like to read ... I like to read," etc. It was hilarious.

It was really incredible, because often we would see 2, 3, 4 or 5 meteors either all at the same time or right after one another. It was a show like none of us had ever seen. We kept counting.

It was also getting relatively cold. For those of us who live in LA, we are not used to cold weather. It was probably in the 40's by 3 AM and my party and I started to tire. We made hot chocolate and kept counting meteors.

When we got to 900 meteors, we decided to leave after we got up to 1,000. The last hundred came very quickly, in probably 10 minutes. There were so many meteors dropping, it was kind of ridiculous. We saw #1,000 at about 3:30 AM.

I'm sure the storm continued. I'm sure we could have stayed until after dawn and seen another 1,000 or more meteors. But we had had our fun. We saw quite a few more meteors while we drove home. We talked about the show, and of course the most memorable of all of them, the first meteor we had seen, or as we called it, #1.

Overall Summary / Conclusion:

Bravo. Mother nature did indeed come through with a display that I will easily remember for the rest of my life. It will be my first meteor storm, after having seen many showers. A great life experience and well worth the time spent and lost sleep. Absolutely unbelievable. Outstanding. Amazing. Incredible. Fabulous. Stupendous. Superb.

In one word: Awesome.


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