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Author Topic: See November’s Speedy Leonids  (Read 1161 times)

Paul Winn

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See November’s Speedy Leonids
« on: November 07, 2014, 10:13:52 AM »

Like an old friend enticing you on a new adventure, the annual Leonid meteor shower returns this month with promises of fiery comet shards dashing across the night sky. Conditions are nearly ideal for viewing. The shower peaks between midnight and dawn on Monday and Tuesday mornings, November 17th and 18th. No worries about moonlight this time around — the demure lunar crescent won’t rise until 2 or 3 a.m.

Leonid meteors hail from periodic Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, which circles the Sun once every 33 years. Comets make the best meteor shower parents because they give till it hurts. Every time 55P/Tempel-Tuttle swings through the inner solar system, its dust-laden ices vaporize under the heat of the Sun, releasing gases and debris along its orbit.

Round and round the comet goes, spawning multiple ribbons of dust. When Earth’s orbit intersects the comet’s path, we slam into a tenuous interplanetary dust storm. Sand and gravel-sized bits strike the atmosphere 60 to 70 miles (100 to 115 km) overhead and vaporize in a fury of light called meteors — o,r as many refer to them, shooting stars
- Read More http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/see-novembers-speedy-leonids11052014/?et_mid=702320&rid=246437008#sthash.dIimwyfp.dpuf
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