Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Leonid meteor showers to light up night sky on Tuesday and Wednesday

 Leonid meteor showers to light up night sky on Tuesday and Wednesday:

 For people in Pakistan: the websites say the meteors will be seen at 21:40 (9:40 PM) GMT on 17th November which is 2:40 AM of 18th November in Pakistan.. we have to add 5 hours to the GMT times to get the Pakistani time as pakistan lies in the time zone of GMT +5...

The night sky would light up for the next couple of days with Leonid meteor shower would be able to witness the spectacle of about 15-20 shooting stars every hour during this time.

C B Devgun of a Delhi-based NGO, SPACE, said: “A shower of shooting stars is something that happens only a few times. Leonids is one of these and the most prominent one. As a result, the rest of the stars appear as circular arcs.”

“Leonids are a prolific meteor shower associated with comet Tempel-Tuttle. The shower is visible every year around November 17 when the Earth moves through the Leonid meteor stream that comprises solid particles known as meteoroids, ejected by the comet as it passes by the Sun. Though the entire meteor streaks are parallel, they appear to originate from a single point in the sky and as a result Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo.”

He added: “Most visible Leonids are between 1 mm and 1 cm in diameter. For example, a Leonid meteor barely visible with the naked eye in a dark sky is caused by a meteoroid of 0.5 mm in diameter and weighs only 0.00006 gram. Just before they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, Leonid meteoroids travel at 71 km per second, or 213 times the speed of sound.”

The showers would be visible from November 14 to 21. “This year, the peak will be on the night of November 17 night and 18 morning around 3 am IST. It’s a favorable position for Indian observers to behold 100-200 meteors per hour during peak activity between 3-4am. No moon and presence of Mars near the radiant will make it look more spectacular as some of the meteors from Leonids would actually be seen as if are from Mars,”he added.

“A meteor is commonly called a shooting star. These can be seen on any night, but when the number is large, it is called a meteor shower. It lasts for just fraction of a second before they are gone,” Devgun said.

How to observe the shower? C B Devgun of a Delhi-based NGO said: “Meteor watching is one of the easiest forms of astronomy. Anyone can go out during early morning hours, lie back and wait for the occasional shooting star. Make sure that you have selected an area where light pollution is at its minimum. Plan to start your watch around 1am. By then, LEO constellation (radiant of Leonids) will be fairly high above the horizon. The hour before dawn should be best of all.”

He added: “The simplest thing to do is just count the number of ‘shower’ and ‘non-shower’ meteors that you see. Shower meteors will seem to come from the Leo constellation. Trace the path of a meteor backwards across the sky. If the line comes near the radiant, then you have observed a shower meteor. If the line goes elsewhere, then you have observed a non-shower meteor. Keep your field of vision filled with sky.”


great topic, have you notice in the news Asteroid Vesta will be visible on the night of 17-18 Feb 2010.

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