Leonid Meteor Shower 2006... Oct 17, 2006 16:00:52 GMT -6
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 17, 2006 16:00:52 GMT -6
Good Leonid Meteor Shower Predicted for 2006
****Addendum to the 2006 Leonid Meteor Shower****
I have been getting several emails regarding the Leonids this year, mostly on where and when to look. It's predicted that the Eastern US will get the best views of the meteors, as this is when the Earth will be facing cold space and directly into a debris field stream of the Comet Temple-Tuttle. We in the central time zone and will miss the main event, but that's not to say we won't get a good showing ourselves.
You can catch meteors at anytime, but it's always best to start your observation after 12:00 am, when we are facing directly into dark space and the sun behind us.
But...this years peak is predicted to be around 10:30 or so eastern time, and we might get some "Scimmers" heading our way from the east. So this year, I would start my observations earlier - around 10:30 pm and stay until you had enough. These scimmers are quite interesting to observe, as they enter and leave the atmosphere quickly - and I have often heard these scimmers crackle as they heated and cooled rapidly. It's said that although this shower might contain much more matter - they will be fainter, as the majority of the debris will be more of grain sized rather than pebble or rock sized. But regardless, go out and seek some...you never know what will burn up thousands of feet over your head.
Get a good lawn chair, warm blanket/sleeping bag and face east at 10:30 pm Saturday night and stay till about 3 am Sunday morning.
Let us know of your meteor shower experience and good luck!
November 18th Peak after 1:00 am
The Leonids are composed of the dusty debris that has been shed by the comet Temple-Tuttle, a small celestial body that orbits the Sun at 33-year intervals.
The comet last passed the Sun and Earth in 1998, and from that year through 2002, the Leonids produced showers in which meteors fell at rates of more than a thousand per hour—displays that astronomers call meteor storms.
Since 2003, however, with Temple-Tuttle having receded back into the far reaches of the solar system, the Leonids have been disappointing, barely producing more than 10 meteors per hour.
Apparently, a rather narrow but dense ribbon of dust was shed by comet Temple-Tuttle when it passed the Sun in 1932. When the Earth interacted with that dusty trail back in 1969, it produced a brief bevy of some 200 to 300 meteors in less than hour.
In 2006, Earth will be nearly twice as far away from the comet as opposed to 1969, but expectations are that as many as 100 to 150 Leonids may streak across the sky in only an hour’s time as we interact with that decades-old ribbon of debris again.
The expected time of peak activity is 11:45 p.m. EST on the night of Nov. 18.
Where to watch
For those living in eastern North America, the constellation of Leo will be rising in the eastern sky. Unfortunately, those living across the central and western parts of the United States and Canada will be out of luck, since Leo will not yet have risen and the expected peak of the display will be over when Leo finally comes above the horizon.
Skywatchers in Western Europe will have ringside seats: The peak is due early on Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. Leo will be high in the southeast sky, just before sunrise affording the very best Leonid views.
Even if the peak has passed prime for Chicago observers, there will still be plenty of good bright meteors to catch and enjoy on the morning of the 18th of November. I'll be on my garage roof facing East with warm drinks...