LEONIDS 1999

17th November, 1999

It snowed all day and was still cloudy at 8.00 in the evening ; most intelligent people gave up the thought of going out to watch shooting stars. But then little by little, as the evening drew on, great patches of clear sky became visible through haze and fog. There was just a little hope there might be a display...

At 12.30 am, 18th November, a friend and I set off up the winding Col de la Croix road, with Jupiter and Saturn high in the south, Orion above the horizon, Gemini visible and Leo still hidden but ready to rise.

By 1.15 am the snow was beginning again, though there were glimpses of Jupiter.

At around 1.30 am I saw the muffled glow of a fireball in the east. That was the first and last Leonid of 1999. The snow set in with a vengeance.

But it was an interesting walk. Snow canons were firing over the pistes, laying a really solid base for next season's skiing. At 2.00 am we met a piste official, checking out his machinery. At 3.15 am, as I walked home, I saw the bakers already at work making the next day's bread.

If there hadn't been invisible meteors flying above the clouds I would probably never have thought of walking up towards Col de la Croix in the small hours of a snowy morning. So, thank you, Leonids...