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Some posts to this list about the recent Perseids hint that the 
Leonids may give a better show.  The Perseids did give a good show as 
long as clouds did not interfere.  (See my recent post, Aug. 21.)

However, don't count on the Leonids.  (Peak 2008 Nov. 17, peak abt. 
5:00 a.m. EST.)  Not only is the peak of this shower narrow but also 
the Leonids do not typically produce many shower meteors -- it is 
often among the year's poorest.  Zenith hourly rate (ZHR) is only 
about 15 compared to 90 for the Perseids.  (The Leonids are 
well-known due to there extraordinary rates, often about every 33 
years.)  Also, in 2008, a waning Gibbous Moon will be rising before 
the Leonid maximum.

Instead one usually looks forward to the Geminids (2008 Dec. 13, peak 
abt. 6 p.m. EST), typically the best annual shower producing the 
highest reliable rates each year (ZHR abt. 120) though unfortunately 
a Full Moon (Dec. 12) will interfere in 2008.

Also the Quadrantids (2009 Jan. 3, peak abt.7 a.m. EST) produces very 
high rates (ZHR abt. 120) though it has a narrow peak.  In 2009 the 
peak favors western N. America with a First Quarter Moon so no 
problem after midnight.  Since sunrise in Gainesville will be about 
7:25 a.m. EST, Florida should still have a good show just before dawn.

For die hard Leonid fans, the next major outbursts may come approx. 
in 2033 and following!

Howard Cohen

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