The Leonids meteor shower, scheduled to take place on November 17 -18, is one of the most prolific meteor showers you will see in your lifetime. This shower originates from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. To many meteors lovers, the month of November is of significant importance because it is associated with the return of the Leonids meteor shower.
Why The Name Leonids?
The reason behind why this particular display is known as the Leonids meteor shower is because it originates from the constellation Leo.
The Leonids meteor shower takes place when earth comes into contact with the debris left behind by the trail of the Tempel-Tuttle comet while it is orbiting the sun. The earth meets with the debris each year around November. The dazzle in the sky will reach its zenith on November 17 and 18. We see this spectacle when the debris hits the atmosphere which causes it to ignite. Debris that doesn’t ignite falls to the earth as meteors.
History On The Leonids
The Leonids meteors were first discovered in 1833. That year is of major significance as it also marks the start of the study of meteor astronomy. After the sunset on November 12, 1833, astronomers where astonished by the high number of meteors in the sky. However, it was not until the early morning hours of November 13 that the greatest impression was made on the astronomers. The display that appeared in the sky puzzled many people. Since then, science has been able to explain this myth and more light has been shed of explaining the behavior of the Leonids meteors.
The Leonids only puts on the best display once in every 33 years. During this display, up to 1000 meteors can be observed per hour. The close proximity of the comet in relation to the earth allows for easy viewing.
How To Get The Best View Of Leonids
Just like all other types of meteor showers, the best time to view Leonids starts right after midnight and continues up to the pre-dawn hours. The best location to witness this show is away from the dazzling city lights. The good news is that viewing the Leonids doesn’t require special optical aids, so anyone will be able to take advantage of this spectacular event. Viewers in North America will have the best vantage point.
At peak, expect to see up to 10 meteors per hour. However, these meteors are barely visible at the start and at the end. To ascertain that the meteor you are seeing is a Leonid, mentally trace the meteor to see if it originates from the Leo constellation. That’s because there will also be other weaker meteor showers occurring during this same time.