Leonid meteor shower: Fast, bright meteors light up the night sky

Leonid meteor shower: Fast, bright meteors light up the night sky
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Known as some of the fastest meteors around, the Leonids blaze across the night sky every November. Historically, they are considered one of the most impressive meteor showers on record, mainly due to the meteor storms that occur approximately every 33 years and cause thousands of meteors to shower across the night sky.

This is not the year for storms, but there are still plenty of chances to see the bright Leonids. Showers are expected to peak at 7:00 PM ET on Thursday night. According to EarthSky. The celestial event will then be visible to all on the night side of the world.

The Leonid meteor shower is active until December 2, along the tip of the tail The North Taurid meteor shower. Around the summit, sky watchers could observe 10-15 meteors per hour. Meteors travel in the opposite direction of the Earth’s rotation, and when they cross, they collide almost head-on with the atmosphere. Space rocks are often recorded in the sky at 44 miles per second (71 kilometers per second) — some of the fastest meteors produced by one of the major annual meteor showers, according to Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the American Meteor Society.

Brighter meteors often leave bright trails and can even leave streaks of smoke across the sky for up to a few minutes, Lunsford said.

The Leonids are also known for their fireballs, meteors so large they shine brighter than Venus, and the Earth Grazers meteors, known for their long and colorful tails, which approach the horizon. According to NASA.

“They are the fastest meteors produced among the major annual meteor showers, and they have a definite spear-like appearance, very long and sharp,” Lunsford said. “They’re very impressive, especially the shiny ones, so they’re probably among my favorites.”

According to CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar, the forecast for Thursday evening near that peak is mostly clear along the US coast (New York and Los Angeles), with a 0% chance of rain. Those in the Midwest (Chicago) will have less favorable sky viewing conditions, with cloudy skies and a 30% chance of snow.

The best time to be out looking for meteors is this Thursday evening into Friday morning, but the meteor society predicts that Earth may also pass through the condensed debris stream left behind by Tempel-Tuttle, the Leonids’ parent comet in 1733. .

If that happens, up to 250 meteors per hour could be seen for a short time around 1 a.m. ET on Saturday, according to Lunsford. If you’re on the night side of the Earth during this time, you might see a meteor, but it’s best to keep your eye on the eastern horizon to increase your chances. (Those on the West Coast of the United States will have a shorter window to see this burst, as Leo, the constellation where meteors are visible, will still be below the horizon.)

“We’ve gone back hundreds of years — because a comet passes through the inner solar system, maybe every 33 years — so each of those paths has been mapped,” Lunsford said. “We can pretty much pinpoint the time and the date, but we don’t know what the particle density is. So it can be exciting or it can be silly.”

The meteor society She recommends going outside at least 30 minutes before the shower peaks so your eyes can adjust to the darkness. Since the moon will rise around the same time as the bright constellation, it is better to look in a direction away from its light.

“Anyone can provide scientifically useful information about these meteors with a few notes. … You can go out and count how many you see.” Lunsford said.

“It’s fun, it’s cheap and it’s a good way for families to get together. If the skies are clear then, I wouldn’t want to miss it.”

There are two more meteor showers you can see before the end of the year, According to EarthSky’s 2022 meteor shower guide. Here’s their peak:

• December 14: Gemini

• December 22: Ursids

There is another full moon on it The Old Farmer’s Almanac Calendar for 2022: Look at the cold moon on December 7.

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