November 18, 2009


To observe this year’s Leonids Meteor Shower on 18th November we made a plan to go to our regular observing place Makanpar-Dhonsa. Our other club members including Mr. Narendra Gor stayed in Bhuj and observed the meteor shower on the terrace of a school along with hundreds of students. To observe from a dark place I went to Makanpar-Dhonsa with club members Chirag Dusnaam, Kartik Pomal, Ashwin Vaghela and my brother Prashant Shah. We reached there at 11:35pm. I quickly set my 25x100 binocular and did some basic binocular observing. During this time my friends saw 8 meteors coming from east. The sky condition was good and our naked-eye limiting magnitude was 5.5.

During this time I counted 21 meteors. The first few meteors were bright at magnitude -1 and left a bright trail behind. The faintest was magnitude 3.5.

I counted 29 meteors in this time. The brightest was a fireball of magnitude -2. The last one was very dim at magnitude 4.2.

4:00am-5:00am: The Great Fireball!
I counted 24 meteors in this session. At 4:08am I was looking around The Sickle (The head of Leo) and Cancer. Then suddenly there was a flash in the entire sky as usually happens at the time of lightening. I looked at Orion and saw that a very bright fireball of magnitude -8 had just broke apart into two, then into 4 meteors and then converted into many sparkles. In the second moment another stream of sparkles appeared just above. It was great indeed! I had never seen like this before. After that I had a phone call of Mr. Narendra Gor form Bhuj and he said he also saw the same!

In this hour we observed 18 meteors. Again the last one was a bright fire ball (magnitude -4) between the stars Mizar and Alkaid of The Big Dipper. It appeared at 6:00am and left a smoke-like trail which remained in the same place for about one minute and then gradually vanished.
So our total number of observed meteors was 99. I also observed dozens of meteors coming from the direction of Canis Minor and Orion. Later I found that was Alpha Monocerotids Meteor Shower that activates between Nov 15-Nov 25. The Leonids was my second great meteor shower observation after The Geminids in the year 2004.

-Rahul Zota (Bhuj-India)