Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Leonids Meteor Shower - Nov 18th, 2010

Leonids Meteor Shower - Nov 18th, 2010
The Leonids meteor shower will send trails of shooting stars in the sky on the dawn of Nov 18th. This shower is created by the Earth moving through the debris of comet Tempel-Tuttle. The shower will peak at 2:45 am IST. However, this year the moon is quite full and moonset will only occur around 3:30 am, therefore the shower will be washed out and not offer a good view.

Come November and all amateur astronomers around the world start looking up to the skies for an event which we call the “Leonids Meteor Shower”. One can see trains of shooting stars coming from a particular area in the sky at an amazing rate. This phenomenon can be seen almost any day of the year but a shower of shooting stars is something that happens only a few times a year.  Leonids is one of these and the most prominent one.

Leonids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The meteor shower is visible every year around November 17 when the Earth moves through the Leonid meteor stream. The stream comprises solid particles, known as meteoroids, ejected by the comet as it passes by the Sun. As the entire meteor streaks are parallel, because of the effect of perspective they appear to originate from a single point in the sky and as a result Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo. The Leonids are famous because their meteor showers, or storms, can be among the most spectacular.

Most visible Leonids are between 1 mm and 1 cm in diameter. For example, a Leonid meteor barely visible with the naked eye in a dark sky, is caused by a meteoroid of 0.5 mm in diameter and weights only 0.00006 gram. Just before they enter the Earth's atmosphere, Leonid meteoroids travel at 71 kilometers per second, or 213 times as fast as speed of sound.
It can be seen from Nov 14 till Nov 21. The peak usually occurs around 17/18th  November.

This year the peak is happening on 17th Nov night/18th morning at around 02:45 hrs IST. However this year the moon is quite full and the moonset will only happen around 3:30am, which means this year the meteor shower will be washed out.  To try and look for Leonids, go to a dark site and try looking during the dawn of Nov18th, but as mentioned this year the viewing will not be good. Although the meteors appear to originate from Leo, they really streak across the whole sky.

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