Come early Sunday morning (Nov. 18), a famous Leonid meteor showering will strech a peak, with obtuse numbers approaching on a preceding and following mornings.
According to Margaret Campbell-Brown and Peter Brown in a 2018 Observer’s Handbook of a Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Earth will pass by a thickest partial of a Leonid overflow during 7 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) on Nov. 17. But a best time to demeanour will be during a after-midnight hours of Sunday morning, once a source a meteors seem to tide from, called a radiant, comes above a setting for observers in North America. The meteors seem to fly divided from a indicate located within a Sickle of Leo (hence a name “Leonids”).
Actually, a really best time to observe a Leonids is as tighten to emergence as possible. This is when viewers will be means to equivocate glisten from a waxing gibbous moon (which sets before 2 a.m. internal time) and a eager will stand good adult in a southeastern sky. [Leonid Meteor Shower: When, Where How to See It]
Under ideal dark-sky conditions, a singular spectator can design to see about 10 to 15 of these ultraswift meteors any hour. They impel into a top atmosphere during 45 miles (72 kilometers) per second — faster than any other meteor shower. As such, as many as half leave manifest trails, and any once in a good while we competence be treated to an outstandingly splendid meteor (called a “fireball”) or a meteor that silently explodes in a strobe-like peep along a trail (called a “bolide”). Such meteors turn so splendid they can expel graphic shadows.
Since Nov mornings tend to be utterly chilly, verging on officious cold, the best suggestion is to be certain and gold up. The best square of apparatus for meteor examination is a prolonged loll chair in that we can distortion behind and demeanour adult though putting any highlight on your neck. Look adult into a sky, keep your eyes relocating around and don’t glance during any one place. Pretty shortly you’ll see a strain in a sky; mentally snippet a strain backward. When another strain comes by, snippet that behind also and see if it came from a same segment of a sky as a first.
By a time a third strain appears, we should be means to determine that a effluvium indicate is indeed within a Sickle, a behind question-mark settlement of stars that outlines a conduct and locks of Leo, a Lion.
What many people remember about a Leonids are a spectacular meteor displays that they staged during a 1998 by 2002 time frame. In some cases, meteors fell during rates of adult to 3,000 per hour! The means of these miraculous displays was Earth’s communication with unenlightened streamers of dirt trailing immediately behind Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, that sheds dry comet waste into space any time it passes a object during roughly 33-year intervals. The comet reached a distant finish of a orbit, called aphelion, in 2014, so a Leonids have been diseased in new years.
Unfortunately, on a approach behind in toward a sun, a comet will pass tighten to Jupiter, whose manly gravitational margin will noticeably worry a circuit of a comet and a concomitant unenlightened trails of dust. So, miraculous “storms” of meteors are not expected to start on a subsequent Leonid cycle. Still, there is a possibility of some poignant activity. Russian meteor consultant Mikhail Maslov has likely that on Nov. 19, 2034, dirt trails strew by a comet in 1699 and 1866 will partially overlie on their communication with Earth, presumably producing meteor rates in a many hundreds per hour. Not a meteor “storm,” though still potentially a really considerable display.
Mark your calendars!
Editor’s note: If we snap an extraordinary Leonid meteor showering print you’d like to share with Space.com and a news partners for a probable story or picture gallery, greatfully send your photos to a staff at email@example.com.
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest techer during New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, a Farmers’ Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for Verizon FiOS1 News in New York’s Lower Hudson Valley. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original essay on Space.com.