This year’s annual Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak tonight. Although Leonids can sometimes be seen at rate of more than thousands meteors per hour, a stream of debris from Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle which orbits the sun every 33 years, is forecasted to display mild activity with rate of no more than 15 meteors per hour this year. In 1833 and 1966 the Leonids produced tens of thousands of meteors per hour. In the years 1988 through to 2002 up to 3000 meteors per hour were recorded. Another meteor shower outburst is expected in year 2031 when the Comet Temple-Tuttle is going to be at its perihelion, or the closest point to the Sun.
The Leonid meteor shower is active between 10 to 23 November. Leonids are coming from a radiant, in the constellation of Leo (the Lion). Absence of full Moon will favor the skywatchers. Another possible peak could happen on November 20. Tonight’s peak would be best-detectable from North American, and Middle East to Asian longitudes respectively, while that on November 20 would be similarly available from places between eastern North America east to extreme western North African longitudes.
|Active: November 6—30; Maximum: November 17, 09h30m UT (nodal crossing
at λ⊙ = 235.27°), but see below; ZHR = 15?;
Radiant: α = 152°, δ = +22°;
V∞ = 71 km/s; r = 2.5;
TFC: α = 140°, δ = +35° and α = 129°, δ = +6° (β > 35° N);
or α = 156°, δ = −3° and α = 129°, δ = +6° (β < 35° N).
IFC: α = 120°, δ = +40° before 0h local time (β > 40° N);
α = 120°, δ = +20° before 4h local time and α = 160°, δ = 0° after 4h local time (β > 0° N);
α = 120°, δ = +10° before 0h local time and α = 160°, δ = −10° (β < 0° N).
Featured image: A meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower. The photograph shows the meteor, afterglow, and wake as distinct components. (Credit Navicore/Wikipedia)
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