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11/18/2019 – Ephemeris – More about the Leonid meteor shower that just reached peak this morning

November 18, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, November 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 5:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 10:56 this evening.

The Leonid meteor shower should have reached its peak early this morning hindered by a bright waning gibbous Moon. In past years, usually every 33 years the Leonid meteors have a super peak, called a meteor storm, where thousands of meteors streak through the skies. These appear for a brief period over a rather small geographic area. In 1966 it occurred principally over the Rocky Mountains. The comet responsible is 55P/Comet Tempel-Tuttle, independently discovered by two astronomers Tempel and Tuttle in 1865 & 1866. The comet has a 33 year orbit of the Sun, and its orbit crosses very close to the Earth’s orbit. Comets are notorious litter bugs, shedding gas, dust and pebble sized debris as they come close to the warming rays of the Sun.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Leonid meteor shower as seen from space

The Leonid meteor shower as seen from space. The time is set for today so the Earth’s blue dot is lost in the stream of meteors crossing the Earth’s orbit (3rd one out from the Sun) just above the 9 o’clock position. The long ellipse is the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle and the purple dot near the aphelion near Uranus’ orbit is the calculated current position of the comet. The flurry of dots are the calculated positions of meteors that whose orbits have been calculated. Click on the image to enlarge. Credit: NASA’s CAMS video camera surveillance network, and were calculated by meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. This visualization is developed and hosted by Ian Webster.

These interactive animations can be found on the International Meteor Organization website:  https://www.imo.net. under Resources and Meteor Shower Calendar.