Happening Tonight: The Leonid Meteor Shower

Read this, grab a blanket, and go out to check out the Leonid meteor shower, as it will reach its peak tonight and in the morning.

The Leonids, which occur every November, are bright and often colorful meteors.

They are well known as one of the most vivid of the meteor showers, with their earthgrazers (which have long colorful tails and are close to the horizon) and fireballs (long-lived streaks that appear as explosions of light and color.

There could be at least 15 meteors per hour, although the historic Leonid display of 2002 boasted almost 1000 per hour. It will be visible starting at about midnight local time across the U.S. and will continue until dawn, according to NASA.

For the best possible viewing, find an area away from bright lights and lie down comfortably with your feet pointed East, NASA suggests.

Be patient, as it could take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark before you begin to see the brilliant flashes across the sky. Also, NASA advises to not just look at the constellation Leo, as they are visible throughout the night sky.

In fact, they advise to view them away from the radiant, as they will appear to last longer and be more spectacular. When looking directly at Leo, the tails seem shorter due to the perspective effect of foreshortening.

The Leonids are derived from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which takes about 33 years to circle the sun. This is why every 33 years there is a magnificent display called a meteor storm, as we saw in 2001-2002 and 1966.

by Spirit Science


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