Saturday, November 18, 2006

Get Out and See the Leonid Meteor Shower

The Leonid meteor shower will be in effect tonight so get and see it if you can. It's predicted to be a good show:
This year, the Earth is passing through a denser-than-usual trail of Tempel-Tuttle debris that should result in high meteor activity, said Brian Marsden, a senior astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge.

The rush of meteors was expected between 11:45 p.m. yesterday [11/17/06] and 1:30 a.m. today [11/18/06]], and during the same times late today [11/18/06] and early tomorrow [11/19/06]. Meteor forecasters were predicting 100 to 200 meteors an hour during the peak, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, based in Cambridge and a Globe columnist.
I generally have bad luck when it comes to viewing meteor showers cursed by cloudy weather. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to sneak a peek. There could be some good stuff tonight:
In North America, for the Maritime Provinces of Canada, New England, eastern New York and Bermuda, the Sickle of Leo (from where the Leonids appear to emanate) will be above the east-northeast horizon just as the shower is due to reach its peak.

But because Leo will be at a much lower altitude compared to Europe, meteor rates correspondingly may be much lower as well.

However, this very special circumstance could lead to the appearance of a few long-trailed Earth-grazing meteors, due to meteoroids that skim along a path nearly parallel to Earth's surface.
Here's hoping.

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