This Bright Leonid Fireball Is Shown During The Storm Of 1966 In The Sky Above Wrightwood, Calif. The Leonids Occur Every Year On Or About Nov. 18Th And Stargazers…
One night after the Leonid meteor shower peaks, we could see a brief outburst of up to 100 meteors or more!
TOPEKA, Kan. — Nocturnal Kansans and Missourians willing to withstand the cold will have the opportunity to see a meteor shower on Thursday night and Friday morning.
Appearing annually, the Leonid Meteor shower is so named because the meteors seem to come from a single point, called the radiant, originating in the constellation Leo.
The time to view the meteor shower in Kansas and Missouri will be during the nighttime hours of Nov. 17 and the early morning hours of Nov. 18, according to Culbertson. The shower will peak at 5 a.m. CST when Leo is highest in the sky.
Meteors can still be seen at night at any time from Nov. 6 to Nov. 30.
While people may be able to catch sight of the brighter meteors from within city limits, it is best to seek a location away from bright lights to spot the fainter meteors, Brenda Culbertson, a Solar System Ambassador with NASA, said.
“From a dark location, observers should expect to see up to 15 meteors per hour, but realistically, fewer should be expected,” Culbertson said. “Some will be too faint for people to notice.”
Culbertson said the meteors come from a comet called Tempel-Tuttle. This comet orbits the sun every 33 years and is named after Ernst Tempel and Horace Tuttle who spotted it in 1865, according to NASA.
Culbertson and NASA recommend the following advice for viewers:
To find the constellation Leo, look for a backwards question mark.
Find an area well away from city/street lights.
Be prepared for winter temperatures.
Orient yourself with your feet toward the east, lie flat on your back and look up.
Give your eyes around 30 minutes to adapt to the dark.
The Leonid Meteor shower produces bright, but also colorful meteors that travel quickly across the sky, according to NASA. The meteors travel at speeds of 44 miles per second and are considered to be some of the fastest meteors.
NASA reports that every 33 years, viewers can see a Leonid storm which can peak with hundreds to thousands of meteors per hour depending on one’s location.
A storm recorded in 1966 saw thousands of meteors per minute streaking across the sky with such frequency that it was likened to rain. The last Leonid storm was recorded in 2002.
The Leonid meteor shower is set to light up the night’s sky in the early hours of Friday
Those living in the south and west of the UK will have the best chance of catching a glimpse of the shooting stars, with clearer skies forecast.
However, cloudy and rainy conditions across northern areas mean a sighting of the annual event is unlikely.
The best time to spot the Leonids, one of the more prolific annual meteor showers, will be from midnight to dawn.
The Leonids are normally fast and bright. The flashes of light are created when fragments of Comet Tempel-Tuttle – known as meteoroids when they are in Space – enter the Earth’s atmosphere at over 45 miles (72km) per second and create friction in the air, causing them to burn up and leave a bright momentary streak across the sky.
Each year the Earth passes through the debris left behind by Tempel-Tuttle and as a result we get the Leonids. In turn they got their names because they appear to stream from the head of the constellation Leo, the Latin word for lion.
Where can I see the Leonids?
You’ll need clear skies to see the meteors and they won’t just be visible in the UK, but across much of the northern hemisphere.
They’ll also be visible across all parts of the sky, so wide open spaces without light pollution will give you the best chance of catching a glimpse.
The Moon will only be 35% illuminated overnight into Friday, meaning it won’t be too bright and so it’ll be easier to spot any shooting stars.
Don’t worry if you don’t manage to see them in the early hours of Friday. Although this is when they’re at their best, they can be spotted from 6 to 30 November.
Will I need specialist equipment?
No. The display will be visible to the naked eye.
What’s special about the Leonids?
Every 33 years Tempel-Tuttle comes as close as it will to Earth when it returns to the inner solar system – the eight planets including our own and the asteroid belt.
“As it approaches the Sun it begins to heat up, releasing dust and gases from its surface,” explains Jake Foster, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.
“This replenishes the comet’s path with a fresh supply of debris, leading to intense meteor storms with a greater hourly rate of shooting stars than usual.
“Since Comet Tempel-Tuttle won’t return to the inner solar system until 2031, no meteor storm is to be expected tonight.”
In 1833, the Leonid meteor storm reported a peak of 100,000 shooting stars per hour.