Ahh, we were blessed with very clear, crisp skies over night, just in time for the peak of the Leonid meteor shower. I had a relatively early night and woke up at 2:00am. Throwing on some thermals and two layers of clothes, I jumped in the car with my DSLR and drove about twenty miles northwest of my house to one of the observing spots I have picked out. It was pretty cold, but ever so clear! Orion hung high in the sky the Pleiades were crystal clear and steady - excellent!
The Leonids were pretty nice to watch, but not really spectacular. Between the predicted peak time of 3:00am and 4:00am US CST, I think I saw around 20-25 or so. Most of these were short streaks of light, but a few were rather brilliant (yet still small) fireballs/bolides. They petered out closer to 5:00am. They streaked across the Orion, Casseiopia and Ursa Major regions throughout the morning. Again, pretty neat to see these, but I bet the folks in the China region had a better time, where the meteors were supposed to peak at 200-300 an hour.
Interesting to note I did see a small number of dimmer meteors emanating from the Andromeda region. They were very faint but noticeable, with very short trails. According to the Meteor Showers Online Website, these may have been the "Andromedids". I'll need to research that further, though.
I set up my camera on the side of the road and started taking 30 second exposures, from 2:45am to 5:15am. I really wanted to try to capture one in an image. Naturally, all of the bright meteors avoided my camera field-of-view as if to mock me, whereas dimmer ones did move in front of my camera but were so faint they failed to register on any of my photos. I have about 190 images to go through and if anything looks decent I will post it to the blog.
Still, it was great to stand around and watch the show while listening to the packs of coyotes nearby. I intended to have a short nap before work once I got home but stayed up to watch the news instead. I am going to have a rough day at the office today!