17 November 2009

November 17th is the annual Leonid meteor shower. Astronomers expect the showing to be quite strong this year. Plus, a new moon on the 16th will be helpful for fainter streaks to be more visible.

The shower will peak on the 17th, but meteors will begin to streak on the 10th or 11th and continue until about the 19th or 20th. The meteors will begin after midnight and continue until the early morning when the higher rates will be seen by the hour.

The best viewing will be for those living in central and eastern Asia, with rates up to a few hundred per hour during the most intense activity. But, even for those in the United States, a display of a few dozen meteors an hour is quite possible.

Although the shower will be visible to most of the US and Canada, viewers in the eastern parts have the best advantage to witness the maximum activity, which is expected between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m. EST. The radiant of the shower, or the perspective point from which the meteors appear to originate from, will be up in the darker southeastern skies. Since the radiant will be high in the sky, more meteors will flash into view all over.

The Leonid radiant is within the constellation Leo, the backwards question-mark star pattern, which is the outline of the head and mane of the Lion.

So get your lawn chairs, binoculars and, if it's cold enough where you are, a blanket, then head for the backyard or an open area. Make sure to face the eastern sky starting at 12:30 a.m., when the Leo constellation rises. The meteors will streak until the early morning hours.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it's cloudy :(