Leonids Meteor Shower

November 18, 2012 Updated Oct 14, 2013 at 3:42 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Leonids Meteor Shower

November 18, 2012 Updated Oct 14, 2013 at 3:42 PM EDT

The Leonids meteor shower did peak early on Saturday, November 17th. However, a second peak is expected early on the 20th. Expecting mainly clear skies and a crescent moon over the next few evenings could make for quite a celestial show. You can expect to see several meteors per hour, with the best chance for viewing just before dawn. Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865, is responsible for the Leonids,

I found some fascinating information about the Leonids on space.com to pass along.

Unlike many meteoroids that Earth encounters, the stuff of the Leonids is orbiting the Sun in the opposite direction as Earth. So it strikes Earth's upper atmosphere at a higher relative speed, more than 160,000 mph (72 kilometers per second). A typical bullet from a rifle, moving at what seems like blinding speed, creeps along by comparison at just 2,240 mph (1,000 meters per second). The faintest meteor that becomes visible to the average viewer on Earth is typically about 0.6 millimeters across, less than one-tenth of an inch or about the size of a sand grain. The energy it produces could light a 100-watt light bulb for about 2.5 seconds. Bright fireballs, for which the Leonids are known, can be generated by something the size of a marble, about 9 millimeters in diameter. The power it creates exceeds 1 million joules, or about the same punch as a small car moving at 60 mph.

If you miss this meteor shower the final major meteor shower of the year is the Gemindis meteor shower peaking on December 13th and 14th. This meteor shower often produces 50 or more meteors per hour. Great news for this year on December 13th we have a new moon. With no moon to hamper the viewing this years Geminids meteor shower could be fantastic. Unless, of course, it’s cloudy outside and mother nature keeps the view from us.