15 November 2011

Leonid Meteor Shower 2011

The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks on November 17th, bringing fast meteors to the late night sky. This shower is generally a good one for stargazers, but the glare of the waning Moon will hide some of the fainter meteors. Nonetheless, a meteor shower brings all kinds of meteors, faint and bright, long-tailed streaks and short blips of light, so with some commitment and a dark sky, you will be rewarded with at least a few good meteors if you take some time to look.

Get a sleeping bag, comfortable chair or pad, and enjoy the sight late on the night of Thursday 17th into the morning of the 18th. The radiant of this eclipse, the constellation Leo the Lion, is above the horizon after 9 pm and high in the sky after midnight, and although the namesake constellation appears to be the "source" of the meteors, in fact the Leonids will be visible in every direction, so the best view is to simply look straight overhead. I'll give it a go from my backyard here in San Francisco, a nice way to close out my birthday :-)

This excellent article in The Universe Today provides a lot more backgound information, as does this article from National Geographic.

Image courtesy Stardate.org.

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