Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spoiler: The Moon and the Leonid meteor shower

Last major, traditional meteor shower of the year [except for the Geminids on December 13]. The event will arrive on the night of November 17th around midnight.


November 17, late night until dawn the following morning Leonids

The Leonid meteor shower is famous. Historically, this shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history – at least one in living memory, 1966 – with rates as high as many thousands of meteors per hour. These storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years. Most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars, producing a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour. Like the October Orionids, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn. This year, however, the last quarter moon will be shining near the radiant point of the shower in the constellation Leo. The unwelcome presence of the moon is sure to dampen the 2011 Leonid display. If you’re game, you can try watching from late night November 17 till dawn November 18, though the moonlit glare will subdue the 2011 Leonid meteor shower.

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