Nov 25, 2009

Leonid meteor showers in November: You May Have the Front Row

Update to post - 

The Leonids failed to impress stargazers even in prime locations in Central and Eastern Asia. Enthusiasts were thoroughly disappointed.

Original post starts here -  

Get ready to enjoy the annual Leonid meteor shower on November 17th, when nature’s live show is at its best in your backyard. The night will be dark so you can easily view up to 300 Leonids per hour depending on where you live on Earth.

Timings and Locations, Please

If you live in the East, you’re in for a treat.
  • Location: Central and Eastern Asia
  • What you will see: up to 300 shooting stars per hour – it’ll be a very intense display of the meteor shower
  • Time: a few hours before and after dawn, but the peak will be just before dawn, as 21:40 GMT
If you’re not in the East, you may still get lucky.
  • Location: North America and Europe
  • What you will see: between 30 to 50 Leonid meteors per hours - a slightly modest show
  • Time: maximum activity will be between 22:30 and 00:30 GMT (or 3:30 and 5:30 am EST)
What are Comets and What are the Leonids
Comets are masses of dust and ice which melt when they approach the Sun so tiny particles, the size of sand grains tend to spread around. These pieces of dust burn up in Earth’s atmosphere which creates meteors, or meteor showers which occur around a dozen times a year.
The Leonids are dust particles belonging to a parent comet named Tempel-Tuttle which orbits the Sun every 33 years. These particles dispersed by the parent comet tend to put up an annual display for a few nights in mid-November.

What’s different this year?
As far back as a couple of decades ago, the Tempel-Tuttle would produce up to a thousand meteors per hour, but as the comet floated into outer space, the amount of Leonids reduced to maybe 10 or 15 and hour. This time, Earth’s atmosphere will meet up with a bigger dust cloud, allowing us to view a spectacular show.
How to spot them

You simply need to do the following:
  1. Turn out the lights
  2. Get cozy in a warm blanket
  3. And look up
Enjoy yourself and remember to take pictures :)

Sources: NASA, Nat Geo, MSN, NASA Gallery (Image 1, Image 2)

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