Leonids on the Way

Posted November 14, 2009 by User 1

The Leonids are coming! These November meteors were the first mankind recognized upon its debut in 1833 with an estimated ZHR of over 200,000 (which is over 50 meteors a second).

Major storms occur every 33 years or so when the associated comet Temple-Tuttle passes by the Earth. This last happened in 1998 though peaking at "only" 3000 meteors per hour. Although the count has dwindled recently as the comet pulls off, 2009 is expected to produce a possibly impressive display of 500+ meteors an hour with dark skies. This is the result of many historical trails laid down by the comet over the past few millennia converging on the day of the shower.

This year, the moon will also be near new so moonlight should not spoil the show like it did in many places for August's Perseids. Unfortunately however, a peak at about 21:45 UTC (13:45 PST) on November 17 means that the peak would be all but invisible for American and western European observers. However, meteor showers are quite unpredictable in nature and anytime after midnight on the surrounding days should work fine.

To identify a Leonid meteor, trace it back to where it appears to have come from. If end up in Leo (the backwards question mark), it's a Leonid.

Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonids
Scientific charts and data: http://www.imcce.fr/en/ephemerides/phenomenes/meteor/DATABASE/Leonids/2009/index.php


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