Friday, November 16, 2012

The Leonid Meteor Shower

We will have perfect viewing weather for the Leonid meteor shower. We will have clear conditions for the first half of the overnight  and a thin crescent moon. After 4:00 or 4:30 we will have a weak front move out of Canada. The clouds associated with the front could be enough to interfere with the viewing.

This picture shows where the meteors will be coming from


The Leonid meteors are debris shed into space by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which swings through the inner solar system at intervals of 33 years. With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dust in its wake. Much of the comet’s old dusty trails litter the mid-November part of Earth’s orbit and the Earth glides through this debris zone every year.  

Peak times to see the Leonids:   In the 2012 Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, meteor experts Margaret Campbell-Brown and Peter Brown indicate that this year’s peak activity should occur on Saturday morning at about 3 a.m. ET. But while Leonid rates are unpredictable, it is unlikely that more than 10 to 20 meteors per hour may be seen this year.  

Tonight will be cold temps will be in the teens to upper 20’s, so bundle up. The best way to see them is to find a nice, dark place with no street lights and as few trees as possible, and look up. You may be happiest in a lawn chair wrapped inside a blanket or a sleeping bag. Hot coffee, tea or soup might be nice too.  

The meteors will moving quickly; most meteors streak by in a second or less. If you're lucky you might get to see a cluster of meteors. Because they are moving so fast, Leonid meteors tend to produce bright meteors, which leave long-lasting streaks or trains in their wake.

Here's a video of the 2009 Leonid meteor shower. video by Dave Kodama.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment, I will answer as soon as I can.