Arrived early Sunday morning (November 18), the famous Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak, with less numbers expected on…
Arrived early Sunday morning (November 18), the famous Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak, with less numbers expected on the previous and following morning.
According to Margaret Campbell-Brown and Peter Brown in the 2018 Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Earth will pass the thickest part of Leonid Swarm at 7:00 AM EST (2300 GMT) November 17th. But the best time to watch will be during afternoon sunday morning, when the source meteors seem to flow from, called the radiation, comes across the horizon for observers in north america. The meteors seem to fly away from a point within Leo Sickle (hence the name “Leonids”).
The very best time to observe Leonids is actually as close to dawn as possible. This is when viewers will be able to avoid glare from a rising gibbous moon (which sets before 2 o’clock local time) and the radiation will climb into the southeastern sky. [Leonid Meteor Shower: When, Where & How to See It]
This NASA chart shows where to see 2018 Leonid Meteor Rain on November 17 and November 18th.
Under ideal dark-sky conditions, a single observer can expect to see approximately 10-15 of these ultrasonic meters every hour. They frame our top 45 miles (72 kilometers) per second atmosphere – faster than any other meteor shower. As such, as many as half leave visible trails, and each time for a while, you can be treated with an outstanding light meteor (called “fireball”) or a meteor that quietly explodes in a stroke-like flash along its way (called a ” bolide “). Such meteors become so bright that they can throw distinct shadows.
Since November mornings tend to be quite chilly, crossing clean cold, the best suggestion is to be safe and bundled. The best equipment for meteoric viewing is a long lounge chair where you can lie back and look up without stress on your neck. Look up in the sky, keep your eyes moving and do not stare at any place. Pretty soon you see a strike in heaven; track the track backwards. When another strike comes out, trace it back too and see if it came from the same area of heaven as the first one.
When a third strike occurs, you should be able to verify that the emanation point is indeed within Sickle, a backward question mark of stars that mark the head and man of Leo, the Lion.
What most people remember about Leonids are the spectacular meteor screens they arranged during the 1998-2002 timeframe. In some cases meteors fell as fast as 3000 per hour! The reason for these stupendous displays was the earth’s interaction with dense streams of vacuuming immediately behind the Comet 55P / Temple-Tuttle, which dusts the dust’s litter in space every time it passes the sun at about 33 years. The comet reached the fourth end of its course, called aphelion, 2014, so the Leonids have been weak in recent years.
Unfortunately, on the way back to the sun, the comet will pass near Jupiter, whose powerful gravitational field will noticeably disturb the disturbance of the comet and its accompanying dense traces of dust. So, probably “storms” of meteors are unlikely to occur on the next Leonid bike. Still there is a chance of any significant activity. Russian meteor expert Mikhail Maslov has predicted that on November 19, 2034 dust traps throwing comets in 1699 and 1866 will overlap partially on their interactions with the earth, possibly producing meteor speeds for hundreds of hours per hour. Not a meteor “storm”, but still potentially a very impressive display.
Select your calendars!
Editor’s Note: If you see an amazing Leonid meteor shower photo you want to share with Space.com and our news partners for any story or image gallery, please send your photos to our staff at spacephotos @ futurenet. com.
Joe Rao works as instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for the newspaper Natural History, Farmers Almanac and other publications, and he is also a meteorologist on camera for Verizon FiOS1 News in the New York Lower Hudson Valley. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.