Observing plans for 1998 Leonid campaign

These pages are an international podium for amateur and professional astronomers, a bulletin board dedicated to the Leonid meteors. Contributions about non-commercial observing activities are to be directed to: mailbox ILW

The Qinghai Radio Observatory near Delingha, China.


The Chinese scientific effort to observe the Leonids is coordinated by Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing (Dr. Li Guangyu). Two ground-based campaigns for optical imaging and stereoscopic measurements are organised in collaboration with the Dutch Meteor Society, who will contribute equipment, expertise and manpower. The two sites are at the Qinghai Radio Observatory near Delingha in a desert in the middle of China, operated by Purple Mountain Observatory, and at the Xinglong optical station of the Beijing Astronomical Observatory in the wooded hills near Beijing. Local organisation of the Xinglong Station is with the Beijing Astronomical Observatory (Dr. Zhu Jin). This observing campaign provides ground-based support for the Leonid Multi Instrument Aircraft Campaign for flux measurements and astrometry.

In addition to this optical imaging effort, there are ambitious plans for using a range of other techniques at the time of the Leonid storm. Funding is presently sought for: the use of ionosonde, high frequency radar, laser radar and long wave guiding equipment to determine the occurrence probability of meteoroids, anomalous change in density of ionospheric electrons and sodium ions at 80-120 km altitude. The use of an infrasonic equipment system to monitor and research the characteristics of infrasonic wave and its propagation regularity. For this purpose, several multiple point infrasonic arrays located near Beijing can be used, as well as the high frequency Skywave radar in HeBei province, the laser radar of the physical and mathematical Institute of CAS in WuHan City and all the ionosonde of ionosphere stations.

Also, support is sought to use the optical GDI tracking theodolites (5 sets), AT wide angle telescopes (27 sets), NAFA 3C Cameras (2 sets), and Meteoric Cameras (2 sets). All of these instruments are distributed on 5 artificial satellite stations in Changchun, Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai and Guangzhou, sustaining an arc of more than 20 degree from north to south. Spots near Xining and Urumqi in west China can provide optical support to monitor the Leonid shower activities.



Prof. Dr. Ulf von Zahn at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at Kuehlungsborn, an expert in lidar observations of meteors, plans to observe the 1998 Leonidsfrom Kuehlungsborn. In the previous year, von Zahn and colleagues intended to use groundbased lidars for Na, K, and Ca observations, an ionosonde, and a meteor-radar turned ST radar, but observations were hampered by bad weather.



The Leonid Airborne Mission will be flown out of Okinawa, Japan.

The Japanese scientific effort to explore the Leonid storm from the ground is coordinated by the National Astronomical Observatory Japan (Dr. J.-I. Watanabe). Amateur and professional observers will focus their effort in Okinawa to cover the same parcel of sky as observed by the airborne mission. Of other locations, the Middle and Upper Atmosphere Radar near Kyoto will play a leading role. Japanese amateur observers will run a foreward meteor scatter network that is part of the Global-MS-Net.



November 18 is a national celebration day in Oman, and Sultan Qaboos Bin Said's birthday. For those that expect the storm to be relatively late and plan to travel to the Sultanate to observe the Leonids, contact fellow traveler Olivier Staiger from Geneva, Switzerland.



Former East-German members of the International Meteor Organisation (J. Rendtel, S. Molau) are planning to set up in Mongolia. The site is rather north and promises to be cold at night.



Duane McDonough is traveling to Thailand to observe the Leonids meteor shower this November from the highest mountain in Thailand. Anyone interested in joining this group to Thailand, please contact Duane McDonough or Randy Gaudet. This is a camping trip in Doi Inthanon National Park.



Professional efforts at Starfire (New Mexico) will deploy ground-based Lidar (Mike Kelly, Cornell University) and radar techniques (Hawkings, Canada) to observe the Leonids in the USA. Other observations will be performed with the Arecibo Radiotelescope in Puerto Rico.

Arthur Giannetti at AFRL and Frans Rietmeyer of the University of New Mexico in Albequerque would like to launch a dust-collecting balloon at the time of the Leonid shower.

Various groups have proposed sounding-rocket experiments, but launch sites in the USA and logistics will likely postpone deployment until 2000 at the earliest.

A Leonid campaign in California will be organised by members of the California Meteor Society. Contact Mike Koop. Although the storm itself can not be observed from California, the shower may still have rates as good as a Perseid shower in the early morning of November 17. Of importance here is that the Californian observations will provide a measure of flux at the onset of the airborne mission.

Louis S. Binder (Fort Bend Astronomy Club) and friends will be traveling to West Texas, very close to the McDonald Observatory, known for its dark skies. As Binder reported: "We plan on setting up 35mm cameras and using high ASA speed film. Possibly a video camera, we ran into trouble estimating the peak fo the Perseids in 96 as they came too fast for even hand held clickers or shouting out."


Last modified: August 2, 1998
P. Jenniskens