I love the Leonid Meteor shower.
Every year, at this time, if you are willing to stay up late and drive to an area that is relatively dark, you are rewarded with a great show. It’s always exciting to see a shooting star – it’s even better to see dozens of them in one viewing.
I got excited by this news on Space.com today:
On the surface, this sounds like incredible news:
A brief surge of activity is expected begin around 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 18. In Europe, that corresponds to early Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. The outburst could last up to two hours.
At the peak, people in these favorable locations could see up to 150 shooting stars per hour, or more than two per minute.
“We expect an outburst of more than 100 Leonids per hour,” said Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Cooke notes that the shooting stars during this peak period are likely to be faint, however, created by very small meteoroid grains.
Now, here’s the problem:
Unfortunately for viewer’s on the U.S. West Coast, the peak occurs before Leo rises. Outside of the expected peak, the best time to watch for Leonids is in the pre-dawn hours, when the constellation Leo is high in the sky.
Drat. If you are interested, the Space.com article has great information about the cause of the annual Leonid meteor shower (it’s caused by the Earth rotating through the trail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle every year), and how to best view the shower wherever you are in the world.
Too bad. 2 shooting stars per minute sounds amazing.