PLEASE NOTE:


*

STATEMENT BY ALAN FITZSIMMONS: A CORRECT ACCOUNT OF LEONID RATES

From Alan Fitzsimmons <A.Fitzsimmons@Queens-Belfast.AC.UK>

Dear Dr. Peiser,

I have had an e-mail kindly forwarded to me this morning
regarding our observed Leonid count rate from La Palma.
This report contained a number of unjustified assumptions by
R. Arlt, leading to an incorrect and misleading judgment
on mine and my colleagues capabilities as observational
astronomers. I would appreciate it if you would immediately
send around the message below, in order to set the record straight.

Best Wishes
Alan Fitzsimmons

_______________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Alan Fitzsimmons                                  Tel: 01232-273124
APS Division                                         Fax: 01232-438918
Dept. of Pure & Applied Physics      e-mail: a.fitzsimmons@qub.ac.uk
Queen's University of Belfast      WWW: http://star.pst.qub.ac.uk/~af/
Belfast BT7 1NN
Northern Ireland

_______________________________________________________________________________

When it became obvious we had major activity over La Pama, we
realised that we should make some kind of count. Unfortunately
we did not know how to make estimates of ZHR's and other
associated parameters, as we were not experienced meteor
observers. However, even professional astronomers
know how to keep count. So we used the simplest and most
obvious solution. As there were about 6 of us, we arranged
ourselves so that we could see most of the sky between us.
We became dark adapted by standing outside for
at least 10 minutes under the photometric skies,
Then over a timed two-minute period we simply shouted
out counts when a meteor was seen (to avoid double counting).
Multiplying by 30 gave us the rough estimate of the number that
could be observed per hour over the whole sky.

So the ~1000 per hour we saw at 03:40 UT and the ~2000
per hour at 04:30 UT are if you could see the entire sky at
once. A single observer would see less than this, by perhaps
a factor 3-4, which I now believe equates to the ZHR that
is the standard measure of meteor activity.

I would appreciate you putting the record straight in an
immediate and more accurate posting. I realise that we did not
reporting the rate in what we now know as the standard manner,
and apologise for this. However we will not be libellously accused
of inaccurate observing!

Regards
Alan Fitzsimmons


*

CCNet DIGEST, 23 November 1998
------------------------------

(1) LEONID REPORTS IN THE MEDIA POOR & WRONG
    Rainer Arlt <rarlt@aip.de>

(2) ESA PUTS LEONID PICTURES ON THE WEB
    Detlef Koschny <dkoschny@estec.esa.nl>

(3) OBSERVATIONS OF THE 1996 LEONID METEOR SHOWER
    P. Brown et al., UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO

(4) HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DISCOVER KUIPER BELT ASTEROID
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>




======================
(1) LEONID REPORTS IN THE MEDIA POOR & WRONG

From Rainer Arlt <rarlt@aip.de>

The information about the maximum of Leonids activity given in
various press releases is poor and wrong.

FIRST: The number of 2000 meteors per hour is based on the report of
one astronomer, who was not watching meteors primarily. He obviously
estimated the hourly number by judging from the effect that sometimes
several meteors were visible in one second. The impression seems not
averaged over periods with lower activity. Fitzsimmons became a
'victim' of Poissonian statistics. ALL REGULAR METEOR OBSERVATIONS
DURING EXACTLY THE SAME TIME SUGGEST AN HOURLY RATE OF ~500 METEORS.

SECOND: The peak is not wrong or shifted by 16 hours. The Leonids
meteoroid shower consists of two components: A storm component of
mostly faint meteors, and a background component rich in bright
meteors. The high activity observed between Nov 17.0 and 17.5 UT was
most likely a strong background component being several revolutions
around the Sun old. It very naturally off any prediction. THE PEAK
THE PEAK DID OCCUR, BUT VERY INDISTINCTLY AT Nov 17.8 UT WITH
RATES OF ABOUT 150 METEORS PER HOUR.

I received hundreds of observing reports from experienced meteor
observers, which allow a very good reproduction of the actual activity.
A similar behaviour of activity may be spotted in the scarce 1965 data
one year before the big 1996 storm. So we have a fair chance to see the
real storm next year.

I can only ask all of you, not to spread useless information like I
referred to above further.

Rainer Arlt

--
Rainer Arlt -- rarlt@aip.de
Director Visual Commission
International Meteor Organization

=================
(2) ESA PUTS LEONID PICTURES ON THE WEB

From Detlef Koschny <dkoschny@estec.esa.nl>

Hi,

we put some Leonid pictures on the following web page:

http://www.so.estec.esa.nl/planetary/meteors/leonids98/

Will do some animations from our video imagery tonite...

bye, Detlef.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Detlef Koschny                      email: dkoschny@estec.esa.nl
European Space Agency
ESTEC Sci/SO
Keplerlaan 1                              phone: +31-71-565-4828
NL-2201 AZ Noordwijk ZH                     fax: +31-71-565-4697

================
(3) OBSERVATIONS OF THE 1996 LEONID METEOR SHOWER

P. Brown*), M. Simek, J. Jones, R. Arlt, W.K. Hocking, M. Beech:
Observations of the 1996 Leonid meteor shower by radar, visual and
video techniques. MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY,
1998, Vol.300, No.1, pp.244-250

*) UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO,DEPT PHYS & ASTRON,LONDON,ON N6A
   3K7,CANADA

The activity of the 1996 Leonid shower from two radars, global visual
and single-station low-light-level TV (LLTV) observations is presented
and summarized. Radar observations from Ondrejov in the Czech. Republic
indicate a peak rate of (>+1) Leonids near lambda. = 235.degrees
2+/-0.1 (Equinox 2000). As observed by this radar, this peak interval
was characterized by a significant increase in the number of bright
Leonids as demonstrated by a noticeable lowering of the mass index near
the peak. From radar observations in Ontario, Canada (using the CLOVAR
system), a raw peak flux of 1.3+/-0.3x10(-2) meteoroid km(-2) h(-1)
brighter than radio magnitude +7.7 was reached at lambda. = 235.degrees
3+/-0.1, uncorrected for initial train radius effects. Single-station
LLTV observations suggest a peak shower flux of 1.8+/-0.4x10(-2)
meteoroid km(-2) h(-1) brighter than absolute magnitude +5+/-0.5
between 235.degrees 3 and 235.degrees 39. The position of the radiant
on the night of maximum of the shower is found to be alpha=152.degrees
9+/-1 degrees.0 and delta=22 degrees.1+/-1.degrees 0 from CLOVAR
observations and alpha=153.degrees 3+/-1.degrees 7 and delta=22.degrees
1+/-1.degrees 7 from LLTV observations, Visual observations of the
shower yield a peak zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of 86+/-22 at
235.degrees 17+/-0.degrees 07 or an equivalent flux of 1.2+/-0.4x10(-2)
meteoroid km(-2) h(-1) brighter than absolute visual magnitude +6.5.
The visual peak was short-lived (1.5+/-0.5 h HWHM) and richer in
fainter meteors than neighbouring intervals. Discrepancies in the
estimated absolute Leonid flux found using differing methods are noted
and possible reasons for the differences discussed. The stream in 1996
showed two distinct meteoroid populations: a population of recently
ejected meteoroids rich in smaller particles near 235.degrees 17 which
is very narrow in nodal extent (HWHM 0.degrees 07+/-0.degrees 02), and
an older component (of order IO revolutions in age) peaking near
235.degrees 4 which is rich in larger stream meteoroids, of long
duration (FWHM 1.degrees 2+/-0.degrees 4), which contributed most to
the total mass flux at Earth from the stream in 1996. Copyright 1998,
Institute for Scientific Information Inc.

=====================
(4) HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DISCOVER KUIPER BELT ASTEROID

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

National Science Foundation

Media contact: Lee Herring, (703) 306-1070, kherring@nsf.gov
Program contact: Joe Stewart, (703) 306-1613, jstewart@nsf.gov

NSF PR 98-79 November 20, 1998

High School Students Discover Distant Asteroid Using NSF Telescope and
Education Program

High school students have discovered a previously unidentified
celestial object in the Kuiper Belt using images from the National
Science Foundation's (NSF) 4-meter Blanco Telescope in Chile.

Heather McCurdy, Miriam Gustafson and George Peterson of Northfield
Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Massachusetts, one of six Asteroid
Search Teams at the school participating in NSF's innovative Hands-On
Universe Program, found and verified the distant object. It was
approximately 100 miles in diameter and now is officially called 1998
FS144.

Astronomy teacher Hughes Pack directed the students' search of computer
images provided by the Berkeley National Lab's Supernova Cosmology
Program. A collaborating team, Stacey Hinds and Angel Birchard,
students from Pennsylvania's Oil City Area High School, confirmed the
location of 1998 FS144 for their peers at Northfield Mount Hermon. The
Oil City students were led by teacher Tim Spuck, a 1998 Pennsylvania
Christa McAuliffe Fellow.

How significant is the find?

"Only about 72 such objects had been identified in the Kuiper Belt,"
says Pack. Kuiper Belt Objects, found beyond Neptune, are generally
believed to be remnants dating to the formation of our solar system.

"This is a fantastic piece of science, of education, of discovery,"
said Hands-On Universe founder and astrophysicist Carl Pennypacker of
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and The Lawrence Hall of Science. He
added, "The Northfield students' discovery has shown that all students
from a broad range of backgrounds can make solid, exciting and
inspiring scientific contributions."

"These students had the opportunity to operate like real astronomers,"
said NSF program officer Joseph Stewart. Star images were obtained by
the students via computer from Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
in Chile, Stewart said. Students then used visual inspection and
special Hands-On Universe software.

"One of the historically limiting factors in astronomy has been simply
not having enough eyes available to inspect all the useful images that
astronomers collect," he said, "but, it's very exciting that these kids
are contributing to real science, performing actual science in the
classroom!" They are able to measure the distance of stars and track
supernova, for example.

"This generous sharing of data by the Supernova Cosmology Program
scientists," said Pack, "is serving dual purposes, because scientists
at the Supernova Cosmology Group are using the data to find supernova
while students use the same data to search for very faint asteroids."

"The Kuiper Belt has the potential to tell us a great deal about how
the solar system originated and evolved and how it compares to others,"
says Brian Marsden of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Marsden received the data from Pack and confirmed the
discovery.

Begun in 1990, Hands-On Universe is now based at the University of
California-Berkeley in the Lawrence Hall of Science. Cerro Tololo
Inter-American Observatory is one of four divisions of the National
Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO), operated by the Association of
Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc., under cooperative
agreement with NSF.
                               -NSF-

For pictures of KBO 1998 FS144 see: http://astronomy.geecs.org. For
more information on the Hands-On Universe Project see:
http://hou.lbl.gov.

----------------------------------------
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----------------------------------------
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contact the moderator Benny J Peiser at <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
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*

CCNet DEBATE, 23 November 1998
------------------------------

(1) ASTROBIOLOGY & PANSPERMIA
    Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>
    & Sir Fred Hoyle 

(2) WHEN QUANTITY TURNS QUALITY
    Andy Nimmo <andy.nimmo@net.ntl.com>

(3) LIFE BRINGING IMPACTS 
    Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

(4) ASTEROID IMPACTS & STAR TREK: WHO INVENTED DEFLECTION IDEA?
    Richard Kowalsky <bitnik@bitnik.com>

====================
(1) ASTROBIOLOGY & PANSPERMIA

From Chandra Wickramasinghe <xdw20@dial.pipex.com>
& Sir Fred Hoyle 

Dear Benny:

Andrew Glikson's comments reveal an unfortunate ignorance of the issues
that are being addressed by modern proponents of panspermia, and
arrogance to imply that he, or they, the panspermia opponents, know
best. The fact is that neither panspermia nor the theory of an
indigenous terrestrial origin of life is proved, and both theories are
clearly worthy of the fullest possible scientific exploration.  This is
not the place to discuss technical arguments in detail, so we would
like to advise Dr. Glikson to take some time to study the evidence as
for instance in our writings, or visit the panspermia website at
http://www.panspermia.org <http://www.panspermia.org>  as well as our
own website which lists our publications at
http://www.cf.ac.uk/uwc/maths/wickramasinghe/

Here are some brief comments on the several several points that have
been made:

1. Spectroscopy of interstellar and cometary dust is consistent with a
vast cosmic preponderance of complex organic materials that cannot be
distinguished from biomaterial or their degradation products.  Since
some 1 in 3 or 4 carbon atoms in interstellar space are tied up in the
form of such material one could reasonably argue that microbial
processes, which are incomparably better suited to accomplish this feat
than any abiotic process, may be at work.

2. The panspermia hypothesis is fully consistent with the known
survival limits of extremophiles and of DNA.  Of course
bacteria/DNA/organics would not survive in sungrazing comets, but that
is a totally spurious point. Such experiments as we have been able to
get done show clearly that flash heating upon atmospheric entry does
not lead to the wholesale destruction of submicron-sized
microorganisms. Moreover, bacteria present in the interiors of large
clumps would survive almost indefinite periods of exposure to an
ultraviolet radiation field. In any event, the survival of the
panspermia hypothesis itself requires less than 1 microorganism in some
10^20 derived from interstellar space to remain viable at every solar
system/comet-forming event.

3. If the odds against starting life de novo on a planet like the Earth
are superastronomical as we estimate them to be, an insistence on a
terrestrial origin implies a return to pre-Copernican thinking.
Furthermore, all the indications from modern microbiology are that once
started microbial life is equipped with all the right attributes to
survive and spread on a cosmic scale.

4. We do not propose to comment on the UFO-Panspermia analogy, a
comparison that is unfortunate to say the least.  It is high time that
Glikson and our other critics recognised that science is ultimately
concerned with facts, not ill informed and unqualified prejudice.

Chandra Wickramasinghe
Fred Hoyle
21 November 1998

==================
(2) WHEN QUANTITY TURNS QUALITY

From Andy Nimmo <andy.nimmo@net.ntl.com>

Dear Sir,

I must admit that I was utterly astonished by Dr Andrew Glikson's
comment that "it is well known that the distinction between organic
matter and bacterial life forms is not a quantitative one but a
qualitative quantum jump." While I am sure nobody would quibble with
his assertion that the distinction is qualitative, does he not realize
that in some instances quality can depend on quantity?

This is, and must always be the case, wherever the mathematics of
probability arises, as it must do in this case. As Chandra
Wickramashinghe and  Sir Fred Hoyle have pointed out in the past, there
are few places in our Universe where so many atoms can find themselves
sufficiently juxtaposed to form complex molecules as on the surface of a
heliosphere.

If, as has been suggested, this is where comets are formed,
irrespective of in which circumstances, then the probability of
molecules as complex as those necessary to harbour potential life is
almost certainly much greater in comets than anywhere else, even if the
molecules then have to be carried on comet particles to drop into a
suitable atmosphere, before they can flourish.

Let us hope that the STARDUST mission, can either verify or put this
matter to rest.

Andy Nimmo.

==================
(3) LIFE BRINGING IMPACTS 

From Michael Paine <mpaine@tpgi.com.au>

Dear Benny,

For an interesting discussion of panspermia and other theories on the
origin of life see the new book "The Fifth Miracle" by Paul Davies. Also
I have a web site which covers the issue of transfer of microbes between
planets via impact ejecta:

http://www1.tpgi.com.au/users/tps-seti/swaprock.html

This is a different issue to interstellar panspermia.

Regards
Michael Paine  mailto:mpaine@tpgi.com.au

=======================
(4) ASTEROID IMPACTS & STAR TREK: WHO INVENTED DEFLECTION IDEA?

From Richard Kowalsky <bitnik@bitnik.com>

It's cloudy again and the Mrs. has gone to bed, so I have some time to
watch Star Trek on the Sci-Fi Channel.

Tonight's episode is the one about the planet that has the North
American "Indians" living in a near perfect environment. The Enterprise
has been sent to  divert an asteroid from impacting and killing all
life on this planet.

There is a scene, just after Kirk falls inside the asteroid deflecting
obelisk, where Spock explains to McCoy that they can no longer look for
Kirk because every moment they wait to deflect the asteroid, the harder
it becomes to do the job. Even to the point where even a starship isn't
powerful enough.

I would say, the only things I noted that was incorrect was that there
was a specific "deflection point", meaning it had to be done at a
certain distance from the planet... Not before or after. McCoy also
questions Spock because the asteroid will not impact for 2 months,
which is kind of a short time span to deflect, especially for a "planet
killer"

Actually the explaination of asteroid deflection is extremely lucid and
accurate, even today, 30 years later.

Evidently they did get some good scientific information on the subject
for this episode. (They got alot of things right, but that's off topic)

That brings to mind the question of exactly how old is this idea?

IOW, when was the idea of deflecting a possible impactor first put forward
and by whom?

richard

----------------------------------------
THE CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE NETWORK (CCNet)
----------------------------------------
The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe, please
contact the moderator Benny J Peiser at <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
use only. The attached information may not be copied or reproduced for
any other purposes without prior permission of the copyright holders.
The electronic archive of the CCNet can be found at
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CCCMENU CCC for 1998

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