15 November 2013

Leonid Meteor Shower 2013 + Comet ISON

Comet ISON in Virgo
The Leonids peak this weekend, a lovely annual shower that is the result of a periodic comet that has left a field of debris that is 'bumped into' by the Earth. Like all meteor showers, the Leonids are best viewed after midnight, and can appear almost anywhere in the sky. Like all meteor showers, the best view is under a dark sky away from city lights. Unfortunately we have a full Moon this year for the Leonids, and that means that even in dark conditions, the bright light of the Moon will wash out many of the meteors. So although this is not the best year for this particular shower, there is a bonus: if you get up early to see the meteor shower, you will also get a good look at Comet ISON, which is passing through the constellation Virgo on its way toward the November 28th rendezvous with the Sun.  A good bet is to get up early on Sunday November 17th and enjoy a view of Comet ISON as it passes near the bright star Spica, and watch for a few meteors in the process. Finder chart here, or just use the map on the right. I wish you clear skies and good viewing!

Image courtesy EarthSky.


stararisto said...

Hi! How successful have you been in spotting Comet ISON now that it is brightening? Any good place to see it in SF? I am in LA and clouds have been no good for me, but I want to tell my family who live in SF to go out and look for it... Thanks!

The Urban Astronomer said...

Hello Stararisto - It was quite challenging to find before the light of the moon became an issue, and now it is all but invisible due to the extensive moon glare and the fact it is very low on the horizon at sunrise. I'm waiting to see it again after perihelion in December.