A favorable Moon phase and a prediction of dozens of meteors per hour make this year's Leonid meteor shower one worth staying up late to see.
Access Astronomy magazine's online media kit for this event at http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=4671.
Astronomy Magazine News Release
2006 November 14
WAUKESHA, WI - This Saturday night, the annual Leonid meteor shower could put on a good show. The meteor shower is active November 14-21, but astronomers expect heightened activity from about 11:45 p.m. until 1:33 a.m. EST November 18/19. A New Moon November 20 means moonlight wont pose much of a problem for this year's late-night light show.
In the United States, the Leonid's radiant the point in the sky where the meteors seem to come from - will be low in the eastern sky, which will reduce the number of visible meteors. Models indicate this year's Leonid meteors will be less massive than in the past years, which means they won't be as bright.Bottom line: If people want to see Leonids this year, they'll have to find a dark sky.
Look to the east
The shower's radiant lies in the constellation Leo, which rises in the east on the 18th. Leo is high enough above the horizon for good meteor viewing around midnight. If youre observing the shower from North America, you could see a few dozen meteors per hour from a dark-sky location.
No equipment necessary
You don't need a telescope or binoculars to watch the Leonid meteor shower. Viewing is best away from lighted areas where you can see the eastern horizon. Warm clothing and an unobstructed view of the sky are all you need to enjoy the Leonid meteor shower.
What causes this meteor shower?
The Leonid meteor shower is the result of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle's passages about the Sun. Tempel-Tuttle has an orbital period of about 33 years, which means the comet will again reach perihelion - its closest approach to the Sun - in 2031. Then, 55P will leave more material in its wake as the Sun's heat melts it.
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