Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What happened to the Leonid meteor shower?

Most meteor showers are leisurely affairs, with peaks lasting a day or two. Yes, there may be a sudden burst, but in general you get a reasonable period to enjoy them. Also, for a week or more on either side of the peak you get enhanced random meteor propagation.

Not so the Leonids. For an hour or two the Leonids can be spectacular, but usually that is it. After that you can pretty well sit down and await the Geminids, with a peak around 14 December.

This year the Leonids were expected on 17 November.

I spent a lot of time on 17 November waiting for something to happen. It didn't. The day looked like any day with reasonable random meteor activity, at least on the DX cluster. Here I saw a Serbian station on 2 metres (that would be a new DXCC for me) but it was just a single burst and I did not reply. I replied to a Polish station who did not hear me.

Of course, the exact timing of meteor showers is a bit hit-and-miss. The earth's rotation is not exactly 365 days, and the timing depends on the leap year, and on the effects of other planet's gravitation on the meteorites. Whilst the predictors try to estimate what effect all this may have, they cannot be too accurate. Also, we amateurs are inconveniently located all over the world, and we all have different angles on the shower. It might be good for some and bad for others.

Meteor showers have more effect if they strike the earth between late evening and early morning. This is simply due to the rotation of the earth and angles they arrive at. Put simply, the meteorites find it hard to catch the earth when it is moving away from them. Or harder to reach the day side of the earth when it is turning away from them. The night side is turning towards them (usually).

So maybe the shower is just late and it is still about to arrive. So on the morning of 18 November I tried again and this time I worked SP9HWY (JO90 1543km) on 70MHz and SM0EJY (JO89 1229km) on 144MHz. Very nice, and I can assure you that Poland and Sweden count as DX from here on VHF. However, these are stations I might work under random scatter conditions. I have not seen a meteor shower yet.

Neither has anyone else. There were two meteor scatter QSOs showing up on the DX cluster on 50MHz for the past day, and only one on 70MHz (mine!). On 144MHZ there were six excluding mine on the morning of 18 November, which is pretty much an ordinary day.

Meteor showers bring a few hours of intense activity which stands out from the occasional random contact which we scatterers all enjoy. Maybe it did happen but we in Europe missed it. There is no sign of that.

Anyway, I will try again later on the 18th. You never know.

I am not sure how to illustrate this so I am putting in a photo of a tram in St Etienne in France.
Why a tram and not a trolley bus, you ask? I stood around in the right places, but I saw no trolley buses. I suspect that St Etienne trolley buses are a bit like the Leonid meteor shower. Blink and you miss them.

I did see diesel buses in St Etienne, but you wouldn't expect me put a photo of a diesel bus on a radio blog, now would you?



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