The Leonid meteor shower's bright and fiery display peaks tonight The Leonids like to dazzle with big fireballs and even historic storms every now and then.

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Leonids love to be dazzled by big fireballs and even historical storms all the time.

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The 1999 Leonid meteor explosion captured from above by NASA.


We are now deep into meteor shower season, with the ever-spicy Leonids poised to reach peak activity Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

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Leonids take the center celestial state as Southern and Northern Taurid Rain Still swirling in the background and three more major showers (Geminids, Ursids and Quadrantids) await their signals in December.

The source of the Leonids are clouds of dust and debris left behind by Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle during their previous swings through the inner Solar System. When tiny particles and pebbles from space sink into our upper atmosphere, it produces a variety of shimmering “shooting stars” and some bright fireballs as well.

Most of the year the Leonid meteor shower peak has an average exposure of about 15 or so meteors per hour. But sometimes Earth floats through particularly dense pockets of comet leaves, resulting in so-called “meteor storms” that can generate hundreds or even thousands of meteors per hour.

The Leonids produced one of the first documented meteor storms in 1833, and the event was observed again in 1866, 1966, 1999 and 2001. These remarkable events happen when comets pass close to the Sun and we are passing through a pocket of old debris at the same time.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Earth will not encounter dense clouds of debris until 2099,” writes the American Meteor Society. “So, when the comet returns in 2031 and 2064, there will be no meteor storms, but there will probably be many good displays of Leonid activity when rates exceed 100 per hour. The year 2030 is the best we can expect yet. . About 15 shower members per hour and perhaps the occasional weak outburst when Earth passes a debris trail.”

The good news for night sky watchers this year is that a debilitating eruption can still be quite a memorable experience, and even in a typical year, the Leonids are likely to produce some bright meteors. are known to have some very frequent trains.

It will also help the Leonids compete with the Moon, which will be nearly full for much of the night during the shower’s peak this week.

If you’re going to venture outside and try to catch the show, Wednesday and Thursday mornings are your best bets. It will be necessary to find a location with minimum light pollution, clear skies and a wide view of the universe. It is possible to see meteorites, especially fireballs, while the bright moon is up. But to increase your chances, consider trying to go outside as the moon is setting in the morning before sunrise.

Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather in your area, give yourself at least 15 minutes to let your eyes adjust, and at least an hour for the entire experience so you reduce your chances of missing something. can maximize. May you be successful!

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