TIME FOR THE LEONIDS METEOR SHOWER……SORT OF.
Photo Credit: Shannon Bileski of Signature Exposures. http://www.signatureexposures.com/gallery/aurora/index.html CLICK photo for larger size and see below for links.
STRENGTH (Low/Med/Strong): Though the Leonids meteor shower can turn into a meteor storm every 33 years or so (Last being in 2001), this year’s display falls into the LOW/MEDIUM strength category. Unfortunately even though history shows a 33 year pattern of storm level displays, studies have shown there will be no storm in 2033 or 2066. The next time a Leonids returns to that level again is predicted to be 2099 (I know right?).
OFF-PEAK VIEWING: Leonids can be visible from approximately November 14th to the 20th.
PEAK VIEWING: Peak viewing this time around falls on the night of November 16th and especially the morning of November 17th (See below for explanation as to why the morning is the best time for shower viewing).
RADIANT POINT: Constellation of Leo the lion.
VELOSITY: Approximately 45 miles per-second.
HOURY RATE (ZHR Max): 15-20 per hour before factoring in the Moon.
MOON PHASE IMPACT: Complete washout potential as the Moon will be FULL.
PARENT BODY: Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
FLASH FACT: Do you know why meteor shower viewing is best just before sunrise? Well, if you were to view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means, just before sunrise you are pointed in the direction that Earth itself is traveling and meteors are mere “bugs hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth.
*** The Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is the maximum rate per hour a particular meteor shower will provide if the shower was directly overhead (at zenith), sky conditions were perfect and it’s as dark as can possibly be (No Moon, man-made light pollution etc).