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11/16/2018 – Ephemeris – The Leonid meteor shower will have several peaks in the next few days

November 16, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, November 16th. The Sun will rise at 7:41. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 5:13. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:19 tomorrow morning.

We are coming into an extended period where the Leonid meteor shower will be at its peak, or rather there is a chance of up to maybe four peaks as the Earth passes through the debris left by Comet Tempel-Tuttle on past trips through the inner solar system. We are having a pretty bright Moon now, but the best displays of the meteors are going to be occurring in the early morning hours after the Moon sets. The meteors will appear to come from the top of a backward question mark that is the head of the constellation Leo the lion. They will be seen all over the sky, but can be traced back to that point, if it’s a Leonid meteor. The Leonids are most numerous about every 33 years, which is about 15 years from now. Otherwise we get about 15 meteors an hour at peak.

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

Addendum

Leonid radiant
The constellation of Leo the lion and the Leonid radiant for about 5 a.m.  Click on image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.
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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.

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