It’s time to look up for the shooting stars as the Leonid meteor shower peaks Tuesday and Wednesday. The meteor has been visible since the first week of November and will continue to put on a show till the end of this month. It’s the second meteor shower of November. A few days ago, the Taurid meteor shower was at its peak activity, sending fireballs across the sky.
Annual meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a stream of the debris left behind in the wake of comets and asteroids. Over time, the pieces of grit-like debris in these streams distribute themselves along the length of the parent object’s orbit around the solar system. Shooting stars are spotted whenever one of these pieces of debris collides with the Earth’s atmosphere, typically burning up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km.
All About Leonids
This shower can be traced back to the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and has put on some real shows over the centuries in the form of intense meteor storms that produce hundreds of visible meteors per hour. The American Meteor Society says it’s unlikely we’ll see such a storm in our lifetimes (the most recent was in 2001), although 2030 might see a minor storm.
This year, the Leonids do offer the opportunity to see around 15 meteors per hour. This is much better than Taurids that peaked a few days ago.
There is a pivotal point in the sky associated with each meteor shower, the radiant. All the meteors appear to originate from the radiant. The best show of the meteor showers occurs when the radiant is well up in the night sky. You can use these space apps to locate the radiant easily. The radiant of this shower lies in the constellation of Leo.
Unlike the Taurids, the Leonids will put up their best show in the early hours of November 17. The peak of the shower is close to the New Moon, and hence the moonlight will present minimal interference.
Things To Keep In Mind
Before you step out to enjoy the cosmic fireworks, remember the following
- There is no need for any telescope or binoculars to watch the November meteor showers. Just find an open space in the dark.
- Make sure there is no artificial light pollution near your viewing spot.
- Give your eyes enough time to adapt to the darkness. It usually takes 20-30 minutes.
- If possible, relax on a lawn chair to enjoy the show of the heavens above.
- Good things always come to those who wait. So be patient while watching the shower. It takes time to spot them!
Lastly, remember the words of a wise man: “Meteor showers are like fishing. You go. You enjoy the night air and maybe the company of friends. Sometimes you catch something.”
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