Clearing Skies Give Way to Showers
All you need to know about this year's Leonid meteor shower!
Published Monday, November 20, 2017 11:57AM AST
Last Updated Monday, November 20, 2017 12:11PM AST
The Leonid meteor shower happens every year in November, when Earth's orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet makes its way around the sun every 33.3 years, leaving a trail of dust rubble in its wake.
The Leonids can put on a great show, in fact some years, they refer to the showers as a “storm”. The great Leonid meteor storm of 1833 was perhaps the most spectacular in recorded history. Visible across eastern North America, the storm produced as many as 200,000 meteors per hour, startling 19th-century observers. Nearly everyone awakened to see the bright lights streak across the sky on the morning of November 12.
That won’t be the case this year. In fact, the peak date has passed; it was last Friday, but it was quite overcast across the region. Now that doesn’t mean we won’t see anything . Some meteors can be seen a few days on either side of the peak so with clearing skies overnight, this could be our best change!
Go outside, find a dark corner of the sky, lie flat on your back and look straight up. You should be prepared to spend a couple hours outside. Given that the meteors are fairly sparse and it’s going to be a cold night, be sure to bundle up!
This year’s rates should be in the range of 10-20 per hour. These meteors are fast moving and could produce lovely blue streaks and even the odd fireball. The best time to look is after midnight and while they will streak across the sky, you should start you search facing the east.
Happy Sky Watching!