Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonid Meteor Shower Forecast

The Leonid Meteor Shower is set to peak early Tuesday morning, November 17th. However, in North America there will be just a "sprinkling" of meteors in the pre-dawn sky, with about 20-30 expected per hour. That's pretty slim pickings for a meteor shower. But if you want to try to catch some of the brilliant meteors streaking across the sky, head outside Tuesday morning from 4 a.m. until sunrise at 6:51 a.m. Patchy fog may be around early tomorrow, but visibility should be alright elsewhere, especially since the Moon is New (i.e., no Moonlight to obscure the meteor light). Looking for Leonids is pretty simple. Just look straight up!

(Image: NASA)
Even though North America's Leonid forecast is less than stunning, it will be spectacular for Asia, where as many as 300 meteors per hour will likely occur! That's an impressive meteor shower!
(Image: Danielle Moser of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office)
Asia gets the best show because that side of the Earth will smack into the densest debris field left behind by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Earth passes this comet's stream of debris on our solar orbit every November, and the resulting meteors appear to originate from the constellation Leo. One extra visual feature of this year's display is that brilliant Mars will be next to Leo.

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