Leonids Meteor Shower: The yearly Leonids Meteor Shower commenced this year on November 6, and it will continue till November 30. It is expected that the peak activity during the shower would be on November 17, when our planet will pass through the densest part of the debris. This means that on November 17, which means next Wednesday, viewers would be able to see parts of this cosmic debris whiz past the Earth in what would seem like fireworks in the sky. The meteor shower is caused by the debris of a small comet known as the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, which is located in the Leo constellation. This comet takes 33 years to orbit around the Sun, according to a report in IE.
The report cited NASA as saying that although the rates of this shower can be as low as 15 meteors per hour, it features the fastest meteors which can typically travel at speeds as high as 71 km per second. But that is not all. These meteors are bright in colour, which has led to them also being called fireballs, and they streak close to the horizon, which is why they are often dubbed as earthgazer meteors. The light that leads to meteors being called shooting stars by many is due to the friction that is present between meteorite and the molecules present in the atmosphere of the Earth.
Another interesting aspect about Leonids is that about every 33 year, this annual meteor shower turns into a meteor storm, to be turned as which, there should be at 1,000 meteors per hour. The Leonid Meteor Storm of 1966 is unique and is remembered by many space enthusiasts and scientists. “Viewers in 1966 experienced a spectacular Leonid storm: thousands of meteors per minute fell through Earth’s atmosphere during a 15 minute period,” NASA notes. The last time the people of the Earth witnessed a Leonid Meteor Storm was in 2002.
These showers can be seen any night during this period, given that the night is cloudless and the Moon is not very bright, and of course, there is not a lot of pollution in the air, which means either state, city and national parks or places further away from the city are better places for viewing. The shower can be best viewed at around midnight. Enthusiasts must remember, though, that they should only look at Leo, the constellation, to catch the meteor shower and that eyes can take about 30 minutes to adapt to the darkness, after which the meteors can be seen till daybreak.