It rains the peak of the fast-moving Leonid meteor this weekend, with a good chance to see it at dawn on Saturday, November 17, and Sunday, November 18. The weather conditions in New Hampshire may only work for annual shows. Estimates for the next few hours require cloudy clouds.
Most experts say the best chance to see a shooting star is around 3am Saturday, because the moon will set shortly after midnight in most parts of the world, but Sunday morning will also function. Leonid usually produces between 10 and 15 meteors per hour. The moon sets at around 12:35 a.m. on the East Coast. To find out the exact time of the month in which you live, go here.
Meteors can be colorful and produce fireballs – that is, brighter and bigger meteors that can leave a colorful trail. And did we mention them fast? They cross the sky around 44 miles per second, making them among the fastest meteors.
In a few years, the Leonid meteor shower produced an explosion, but this could not be one of them, according to Earthsky.org. Within a few years, they produced up to 1,000 meteors per hour. The last time that happened was in 2001.
The Leonid, who is associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, gets their name from the constellation Leo the Lion and will come from the stars that make up Leo's mane. And even though they emanate from that part of the sky, there is no need to find constellations. If the weather allows, you will be able to see it from any part of the sky.
But if you want to find Leo the Lion, look at the eastern horizon. The sky climb begins after midnight, and when it reaches its highest point, the most meteors will be seen.
There are some meteor showers left before the calendar changes to 2019.
Geminid meteor shower, which comes from the Gemini constellation, usually the best this year, produces up to 120 meteors of various colors one hour at its peak on December 13-14. Mandi runs from December 7-17, and is produced by debris left by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, discovered in 1982. Seeing conditions must be very good because the first quarter of the moon will sink shortly after midnight, leaving the sky dark. The peak viewing time is in the morning hours, but Geminids are also active before midnight.
Meteor showers later this year are small, and often overlooked. The Ursids meteor shower, which takes place on December 17-25 and tops December 21-22, produces around 5 to 10 meteors per hour, although occasional explosions produce 25 or more hours. The full moon will wash everything but the brightest, however. Ursids are from the constellation of Ursa Minor, and are produced by the dust grains left by the Tuttle comet found in 1790. The best time for vision is after midnight.
(Photo by Bill Ingalls / NASA viaGetty Images)
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