15 November 2014

Leonid Meteor Shower 2014

I enjoy the annual Leonids meteor shower for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is my birthday meteor shower, peaking on my birthday each year. The peak of the Leonids comes on the evening of November 17 into the early morning hours of November 18, and this year the Moon is a thin waning crescent in the early morning and won't disrupt the viewing of meteors. So, get a warm blanket and a clear view of the sky and enjoy this annual shower that promises

Leonid 'Radiant'
Like all meteor showers, they are caused by a remnant of a celestial object, most often a comet or asteroid that leaves a wake of particles that intercept the Earth's atmosphere on a predictable annual basis. The Leonids are caused by Comet Temple-Tuttle that orbits the Sun every 33 years. The debris stream from Temple-Tuttle is littered with sand-like particles that glow and shine in the upper atmosphere when they strike it at thousands of miles per hour, creating the beautiful 'shower' of light. Under dark skies you can see 10-20 Leonids per hour, so set your expectations appropriately and be patient. You can't hurry a meteor shower - let it come to you and present itself in all its splendor. This year Jupiter adds to the mix, now in a location near the center of Leo and therefore near the 'radiant' of the shower. Here's to clear skies and good viewing.

Here are more detailed write-ups. I found the Sky & Telescope article to be quite informative.



Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

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