Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meteor shower set to reach peak

As reported by BBC News/Science & Environment

Leonids (SPL)
The Leonids come from the tail of Comet Tempel Tuttle

Astronomers have been observing the annual Leonids meteor shower.

The tiny high-speed particles come from the tail of Comet 55 P/Tempel-Tuttle, which was last in the vicinity of the Earth in 1998.

To the eye, the meteors appear to originate from a point in the constellation Leo.

This year, astronomers predicted a strong peak of activity in the shower, with the best views from Asia.

On this continent, astronomers may be able to see 200-300 meteors per hour.

If the Leonid peak lasts longer than predicted, it may be possible to see the end of it from Europe.

North American observers were told the best time to view the shower was from the early hours of the morning until dawn on Tuesday 17 November.

Viewing conditions were expected to be good this year in North America, because the Moon was not lighting the sky.

A second, more intense outburst of Leonids is expected to happen during the early morning hours of 18 November in Asia.

Infographic (BBC)

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