Leonid meteor shower: When to catch, how to see and all you need to know

By: |
November 16, 2020 4:03 PM

Leonids are meteors emerging from the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which takes 33 years to orbit the Sun, and they are bright and travel at 71 km per second.

Leonids have been named after Leo the Lion constellation. (Image: NASA/Ames Research Center/ISAS/Shinsuke Abe and Hajime Yano)

Leonid meteor shower: Have you been wanting to watch a meteor shower? You’re just in luck as the Leonid meteor shower is scheduled for its annual appearance in India. According to TimeandDate, people in India would be able to catch the Leonid meteor shower on Tuesday and Wednesday, i.e. November 17 and 18. This year, the shower has been active from November 6 and will remain so till the end of the month, a report in IE stated.

Leonid meteors explained

Leonids are meteors emerging from the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which takes 33 years to orbit the Sun, and they are bright and travel at 71 km per second, falling among the fastest-traveling meteors. The report stated that this year, every hour is likely to witness peaks of about 10-15 meteors.

These showers also include fireballs and ‘earthgazers’. Fireballs refer to large, bright meteors lasting longer than the average ones, while the earthgazers are those appearing close to the horizon having long, colourful tails.

The report added that the name of the showers comes from the constellation they apparently originated from. Thus, the Leonids have been named after Leo the Lion constellation, which consists of stars forming the mane of a lion.

Meteor shower

Meteor showers are nothing but cosmic debris left behind a comet. While orbiting, the Earth travels through this debris of rocks and ice that are left behind in the wake of a comet, and when the planet crosses them, this debris looks like a display of fireworks in the sky, which has been termed as a meteor shower.

The report stated that around the year, several meteor showers can occur. It cited NASA as saying that in a year, as many as 30 meteor showers observable from the Earth can occur. The Perseid meteor shower, for example, which was first observed a whopping 2,000 years ago, takes place in August annually.

At present, the Leonid, Northern Taurid and Southern Taurid meteor showers are active, while the rest of the year will witness the Geminid meteor shower occurring between December 4 and 20, and the Ursid meteor shower taking place between December 17 and 26, the report stated.

Best way to catch a meteor shower

As per the report, meteor showers are best visible when the sky is cloudless and the entire sky can be seen, with a dimly lit Moon. Moreover, the farther away the gazer is from the citylights, the better are the chances of catching the phenomenon. This time, the shower will occur when the Moon is under 5% full.

Peaks are likely to be most visible between midnight and dawn and they can last for any duration between a few hours and several nights. It is advised to witness meteor showers with naked eyes, since telescopes or binoculars can narrow the field of vision.

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