As many of you may know, the 2010 Leonid Meteor Shower peaked before dawn on the 18th of November. For several different locations where the elevation was closer to sea level, clouds or light pollution obscured the sky. Off State Route 243 in Southern California however, it was a different story. With moderately high elevation levels and an awesome full-sky view, the observation of this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower was a pleasant experience.
This location was the spot that I chose to observe the meteor shower. The surrounding mountains acted as a shield against the light from the moon that hung in the western horizon. The only light pollution was visible just above the mountains in the eastern direction from the city of Palm Springs and from the south west direction coming from the San Jacinto – Hemet Valley. A slight fog began to roll in the closer the time progressed towards dawn. But even with these few obstructions, the meteors streaked across and along the earth’s atmosphere in full view.
The meteors shot out from the East and moved in their parabolic paths across the sky in North West and South East directions. Some traveled low just above the horizon and many traveled above and made your head turn quickly from side to side. I witnessed approximately 24 meteors an hour, which breaks down to approximately 1 meteor sighting every 2.5 minutes. I observed the meteor shower for nearly 3 hours, so you can estimate approximately how many I witnessed.
This particular morning was also a great time to catch a decent view of a few Targets in the sky such as the Orion (one of my personal favorites), Ursa Major , also known as the Big Dipper, Venus , and Gemini . The above photo is a capture of the eastern sky @ approximately 5:15 am PST when Venus had risen above the mountain top just before dawn. The blue light was from the sun coming up mixed with the light pollution that came from the city of Palm Springs of Southern California.
Although this year’s Leonid Meteor Shower did not become a meteor storm as indicated by the International Meteor Organization , it was still a suitable performance of a meteor shower. I enjoyed the occurrence and the opportunity to do so.