Leonids- Meteor shower

As the year is approaching towards its end, sky is again ready with its spectacular show- Leonids meteor shower which will start from mid of November and can be observed till November 20.

Leonids- this prolific meteor shower is associated with comet Temple-Tuttle which is a periodic comet. It was independently discovered by Wilhelm Tempel on December 19, 1865, and by Horace Parnell Tuttle on January 6, 1866.

The Leonid meteor shower happens every year in November, when Earth’s orbit crosses the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet makes its way around the sun every 33.3 years, leaving a trail of dust rubble in its wake. When Earth’s orbit crosses this trail of debris, pieces of the comet fall toward the planet’s surface. Due to drag, or air resistance, in Earth’s atmosphere cause the comet’s crumbs to heat up and ignite into burning balls of fire called meteors. 


This annual meteor shower is responsible for some of the most intense meteor storms in history. Sometimes, meteors fall at rates as high as 50,000 per hour but these meteor storms occurs very rarely.

This year after midnight of November 17th till early morning in November 18th Leonids will be on its peak and will treat us with an hourly rate of 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Also, the visibility of the meteor shower will also be excellent because of the waning crescent moon on November 17th just a day before new moon, providing the perfect view to watch the meteors without getting washed by the lunar lights.

The Leonid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Leo, where its meteors appear to originate. This meteor shower puts up a good show for the people of Northern Hemisphere. Although it can also be seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

So, to enjoy this show by the sky go outside, lie on the ground and look up in sky and be ready to spend couple of hours under the stars.

Yogesh Kumar Joshi,
SPACE Educator

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