flock ofNovember has already made a fiery month of meteors. The arrival of Leonids could lead to an all-out meteor storm next week.
While the Taurids are known for traveling relatively slowly because they burn up in the atmosphere and produce a number of fireballs (especially this year), the Leonids are a fast shower that produces fast, bright stars.
Several times every century, Leonids presents a frenzy of absolute fire in the sky, with hundreds and even thousands of falling stars appearing per hour.
The reason is pieces of dust, debris, and detritus from Comet Temple Tuttle. Every year around this time, our planet drifts through clouds of cometary droppings left over during previous trips through the solar system. And about every 33 years we seem to bump into a particularly dense pocket of matter, resulting in such a storm. This happened as recently as 2001, which was a small bonus as it came just two years after a predictable storm in 1999.
Stellar meteor showers 2021 shine in footage from around the world
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While the Leonid meteor storm coming from this branch of debris is not expected until 2031, these things are unpredictable. according to American Meteor Societythere is a possibility that we will encounter a different dust field in 2022 associated with a comet visit in 1733. This can result in 50 to more than 200 meteors per hour in the last hours of November 18 through the following morning.
Again, there are no guarantees for any of this because meteor showers are very fickle. But the best case scenario could make for a few great nights of sky watching. The usual peak for Lions of Leonids is expected in the late evening hours of November 17 until dawn the next morning. Expect 10 to 15 meteors per hour under ideal viewing conditions. The next night is when we might have an explosion that sees these numbers increase by an order of magnitude, if we’re lucky.
To experience the scenery, you’ll want to find an area that has a wide view of clear skies and is free from light pollution. You can find the constellation Leo using an app like Stellarium and orient yourself so that Leo’s head is in the center of your field of view. Leonid’s meteors will appear to be radiating from this point in the sky, hence the name.
You don’t have to orient yourself this way, as the meteors will travel all over the sky, but it may enhance things. Perhaps it’s a little more important to keep the waning moon out of your field of view so it doesn’t wash out any fallen stars.
Once you are guided and comfortable, simply lie back and relax. After you set your eyes, you should be on your way to seeing at least some meteors if you give the whole experience a full hour or more.
Good luck and happy discovery!
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