Thursday, November 17, 2011

Astronomy News: Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

Illustration by SW/LITS


Grab your coat, maybe a blanket, some hot cocoa and a lawn chair!  Once again, the annual peak of the Leonid Meteor shower will be tonight (Thursday, November 17, 2011).  It starts about 11:00 p.m. and goes into the wee hours Friday morning. However, a bright third quarter moon and chilly temperatures may make viewing a bit more challenging.

According to NASA’s website, "the Leonid meteors are from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which travels around the sun and leaves clouds of dust in its wake. As Earth travels through the debris left from the comet's previous passes through Earth’s orbit, fragments impact the atmosphere and vaporize across the night sky."

Those brilliant streaks we see across our night skies this time each Fall, are called Leonid meteors, due to the the fact that they appear to originate from the direction of the constellation Leo. Leonids are some of the fastest meteors, coming into our atmosphere at approximately 44 miles per second.

If you are so inclined and are quick enough, snap some photos of these celestial fireworks in our night skies and send them to me.  I'll post them here on the blog, for all to admire.

Safe and lucky sky watching!


See also: Meteor Showers Online

How to Find and Identify the Zodiac Constellation Leo


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