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11/17/2016 – Ephemeris – The Leonid meteor shower will be hampered by the Moon tomorrow morning

November 17, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, November 17th.  The Sun will rise at 7:43.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 5:12.  The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 8:39 this evening.

The Leonid meteor shower, which reaches peak activity today is going to be washed out by the bright Moon.  The International Meteor Organization doesn’t have anything specific on it this year.  On most years, it produces only 15 meteors an hour tops.  However about every 33 years or so all heaven breaks loose.  From the predictions I’ve seen the fun starts in 2034 and lasts a few years.  The reason for the spectacular meteor storms, as they call them, is that the responsible comet, 55P Tempel-Tuttle, has a debris clump that hasn’t fanned out much along its orbit, so we get intense meteor activity when the comet again enters the inner solar system.  It’s expected back in 2031 with its main cloud of meteoroids a couple of years later.

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

Addendum

Leonid Radiant

Leonid meteor radiant at about 2 a.m. from Traverse City.  Credit:  My LookingUp program.

1833 meteor storm

A famous woodcut of the 1833 Leonid meteor storm.

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11/16/2015 – Ephemeris – The Leonid meteors are expected to reach their peak tomorrow

November 16, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, November 16th.  The Sun will rise at 7:40.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 5:13.   The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 9:45 this evening.

Tomorrow night is the expected peak of the Leonid meteor shower.  The expected peak will be at 11 p.m. (4 hr UT November 18). Problem is that the radiant won’t rise until just after midnight for northern Michigan.  For the best visible numbers the peak of the meteor shower should coincide with the time the radiant is highest in the sky.  For the Leonids, that’s when morning twilight starts.  There’s another possible peak for those in Asia at 21 hr UT November 17.  It’s afternoon for us.  The Leonids generally produce their meteor storms of thousands of meteors an hour about every 33 years, when the comet is back near the Earth and the Sun.  That next time would be around the year 2031 give or take a year.  I personally missed the meteor storm of 1966 by a couple of hours.  I missed the one in the late 90s by more than that. The next  around 2031 may be a bridge too far for me.

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

Addendum

Meteor storm

The 1933 Leonid meteor storm depicted over Niagara Falls in this woodcut. Public Domain. by A Pickering.

Meteor shower from orbit

The 1997 Leonid meteor shower as seen from orbit. Credit NASA.

Leonid Radiant

Leonid meteor radiant