Crystal Ball says...Leonids?

Posted August 14, 2009 by User 1


Hopefully, everyone reading this had the chance to enjoy the 160 meteors per hour zenith rate of the Perseids that was recorded. The double peak meant that the entire world had a chance at a maximum with the western hemisphere taking in the first (a trail of debris from the 1600's) in addition to the standard peak. With that over with, it's time to look forward towards the Leonids.

The Leonids rank high up with the Perseids in terms of familiarity for non-seasoned meteor observers. They are especially well-known for their 33-year periodic meteor storms; especially that of 1966 which had an estimated 200,000 meteors per hour falling in places. The first of these recorded storms, in 1833, led the advancement of scientific knowledge in the field of meteors.

This year, Earth is expected to cross 2 tracks laid down by Comet Temple-Tuttle in the 15th and 16th centuries (1466 and 1533) which could potentially increase the rate per hour to 100. The shower will favor longitudes spanning the length of Russia with exceptional visibility expected everywhere but central and western Europe along with Africa. Rates may possibly exceed that of the Perseids (some predict over 1000/hour) for moments. Peak is expected for November 17 15:10 UT with the radiant rising after midnight, local time.

Can't wait so long? In October, the Orionids will reach their 12 year peak of 30 meteors per hour. The peak will be October 21. Though not expected to reach its levels in 2007, it should still be interesting to see how they turn out.

More details on these coming showers (and possibly storm for the Leonids) will be made available as the time comes. The Leonids will occur on a Tuesday and the Orionids on a Thursday.

SPACE.com - 1966 Leonids: http://www.space.com/spacewatch/061110_night_sky.html
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonids
IMO Meteor Calendar: http://www.imo.net/calendar/2009#leo (IMO = International Meteor Organization)


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