Next week, “shooting stars” will streak across the evening sky as the Leonid meteor shower reaches Earth once more. This once-a-year meteor shower is known to be responsible for many of the most intense displays in history, with meteors dropping at rates as high as 50,000 per hour.
However, this year’s event probably won’t rank among the most impressive, according to experts.
In addition to a less than historic display, the ability to see the Leonids will also be sub-optimal this year due to bright lighting from a waning gibbous moon, which will probably outshine some meteors on a few nights. That being said, however, you should still be able to see some of the meteor shower, particularly later in the month.
Supermoon could make things complicated
The Leonid meteor shower reaches its maximum on the evening of Nov. 17 and early the next morning. Skywatchers could possibly see some meteors as soon as Sunday, Nov. 13. However, with a full supermoon on Monday, Nov. 12, moonlight will probably make meteors tough to see.
The Leonid meteor shower will continue to fill the evening sky until Nov. 21, when only one-half of the waning moon’s face will light up the sky. With less of the moon’s normal light impeding the view, skywatchers who could not see the meteor shower initially will still have an opportunity to catch the last Leonid meteors.
This month’s big meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Leo, where its meteors seem to come out of in the sky. However, that location isn’t the only place you should look to enjoy the meteor shower. Even though the meteor shower might be a bit better seen from the Northern Hemisphere, skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere should be capable of seeing the show too.
The Leonid meteor shower occurs each year in November, when Earth’s orbit passes across the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet orbits the sun every 33.3 years, leaving a trail of dust in its wake. When Earth’s goes through this trail of debris, pieces of the comet enter our atmosphere and air resistance causes the debris to heat up and ignite into incinerating balls of fire known as meteors. These comet bits are generally the size of a pea, so they have a tendency to burn up completely before striking Earth’s exterior. Meteors that make it through the whole journey to the ground are known as meteorites. However, the Leonid meteor shower probably won’t provide any meteorites.
Meteors can be seen by the naked eye, so you won’t need any equipment to see them.
Image credit: Koen Miskotte
The post Here’s how to see the spectacular Leonid meteor shower next week appeared first on Redorbit.
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