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Posts Tagged ‘Meteor Showers’

The Leonid Meteor Shower, 2017

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers a week or more of increased meteor activity. Luckily, the peak of this year’s shower will be on a Friday night (November 17) into Saturday morning, so you can catch up on your sleep the next day. If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn. Conditions for the this year’s Leonids should be good (unless your local weather is bad) because the moon will not be very bright, unlike 2016, when a gibbous moon ruined the viewing.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.)

If you have never seen a meteor, it is well worth your time and lack of sleep to get out and take a look. You could even get lucky enough to see a fireball, which is a larger chunk that leaves a colorful streak that can persist for a second or two.

So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

eLibrary can help science teachers and students instruct and learn more about the stuff in the sky. Check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches. RTs can provide lots of articles and other resources, from the basics to more advanced content, to expand your understanding of the cosmos.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy

Astrophysics

Constellations and Star Systems

Galaxies

Meteor Showers

Near-Earth Objects

Solar System

Stars

Telescope

Stay Up Late for the Leonid Meteor Shower

Have you ever seen a shooting star? If not, it is a pretty cool thing to see, and you might have your chance this week. The annual Leonid meteor shower is getting underway, providing skywatchers about a week of increased meteor activity, November 13-21, 2016. The peak of this year’s shower will be Thursday night (November 17) into Friday morning. But, If you want the best chance to see something, you’ll have to stay up very late; the show will not really get going until after midnight. And, since the frequency of sightings increases through the early morning hours and peak before sunrise, it might be a better idea to go to bed early and get up before dawn.

meteor showers RT

Meteor Showers RT via ProQuest eLibrary

Unfortunately, this is not expected to be a great year for the Leonids. The showers happen because Earth travels near trails left by Tempel-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the sun every 33 years. Bits of the comet are pulled by Earth’s gravity into the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, and the resulting friction causes them to burn as they fall. When our planet travels directly through one of these trails, we get what is known as a meteor storm or meteor outburst. Such storms usually occur in the years following Tempel-Tuttle’s pass, but they can occur in years in between. But, this is not one of those years, and the number of shooting stars is expected to be low. (Too bad it is not 1833 or 1996, years when the Leonid storms were especially spectacular, with thousands of meteors per hour.) In addition, the shower this year will be competing with a waning gibbous moon which will fill the sky with light for most of the night.

All that said, you might still want to give it a shot, especially if you have never seen a meteor. So, where should you look? Meteor showers are named after the place in the sky from which they appear to radiate, in this case, the constellation Leo. In reality, they can appear across the sky and go in many directions. So, the best strategy is just to lie back and take in as much of the sky as possible. Of course, to increase your odds, try to watch from a spot as far away from the glow of the city and other light sources as you can.

If you’d like to learn more about the stuff in the sky, check out the links in the text above, see the Research Topics pages below or do your own searches.

As they say in astronomy circles, clear skies to you!

Astronomy

Astrophysics

Constellations and Star Systems

Galaxies

Meteor Showers

Near-Earth Objects

Solar System

Stars

Telescope

The Geminids Meteor Shower in December

A meteor shower lights up the sky over the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl near the village San Nicolas..

The Geminids, one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, has its highest number of visible meteors around December 14th. However, this year’s display will be subdued for most of watching hours because of the approaching full moon on December 17th.  But that shouldn’t stop you from looking for it. Even with a near-full moon, during its peak it may be possible to see over 100 meteors in an hour, and with it, maybe a few bright fireballs.

The GeminidsThe Geminids gets its name from the Gemini constellation from where it seems to emanate,  but the meteors can appear nearly anywhere in the sky. Unlike other meteor showers, the Geminids originate from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon rather than a comet.

For those of you living in the city with a considerable amount of ambient light it’s advisable to leave the city behind in order to get the full effect of the Geminids. Considering the complication of a full moon, you’ll need to wake early and rub the sleep from your eyes. The best viewing should be on the 13th and 14th of December from the time the moon sets in early morning until dawn.

Be sure to check out eLibrary to help you research the Geminids and other prominent meteor showers like the Perseids and Leonids.

Research Topics:

Asteroids

Comets

Meteoroids

Meteor Showers

Publications:

Astronomy

Australasian Science

Natural History

Science News

eLibrary Topics:

Asteroids

Astronomy

Comets

Meteoroids