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Leonid Meteor Shower 2016 – What To Expect This Year And How To See It.

Leonid Meteor Shower 2016

Leonid Meteor Shower

The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks on the evening of the 17th/ 18th November 2016. In the past, it’s been one of the most dramatic and infamous meteor showers. Read on to find out more.

At different times in history, the Leonid Meteor Shower produced heavy meteor showers and storms. The most noteworthy were in 1833 and 1966 when the Leonids produced tens of thousands of meteors per hour! As a result, these Leonid storms literally had the appearance of meteors falling from the sky like rain! Becuase of this the Leonids have become one of the more famous meteor showers.

Frightened witnesses held on to objects on the ground as the feeling of Earth speeding through space was incredibly strong.  The shooting stars came from a point in the sky in the constellation of Leo the Lion (the Leonids radiant). Amplifying the feeling of the Earths movement through space. So why did this happen?

The Cause of the Leonid Meteor Shower

This dramatic phenomenon is due to the shower’s parent comet “Temple-Tuttle” which orbits the sun every 33 years. As a result, the comet ejects vast amounts of material into space as it gets close to the sun and creates a meteoroid stream. The Earth encounters and passes through this stream every November consequently sparking the Leonid Meteor Shower. The comet is at perihelion (closest to the Sun) in 2031 possibly adding more material to the meteoroid stream, this could make conditions right for another outburst in 2033. With that in mind meteor showers and in particular, the Leonids are unpredictable. In the years 1988 through to 2002 up to 3000 meteors were recorded on video per hour so anything can happen.

Normally if the Earth isn’t passing through a dense part of the Leonid stream we can expect to see an hourly rate of roughly 10-20 Leonids per hour. However, because of the waning Moon in November 2016, all but the brightest meteors will be hidden.

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Watching the Leonid Meteor Shower

To watch and enjoy the Leonids; First of all wrap up warm, find a nice dark spot away from bright lights with a good view of the sky. Most of all make yourself comfortable and look up. There is no equipment needed, just a little bit of patience and you only need your eyes.

For more information on the Leonid meteor shower see “what are meteors“and importantly “How to watch meteors“. Please browse the rest of meteorwatch.org for tips, guides, and information.

 

Further reading:

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Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites (The Patrick Moore Practical Astronomy Series) 

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Philip’s Astronomy Starter Pack

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