Astronomers Available to Discuss Leonid Meteor Showers

first_imgShareTipsheet/Nov. 16, 1998 Contacts:Patrick Hartigan, assistant professor of space physics and astronomy, (713) 527-8101, ext. 2245, [email protected] Patricia Reiff, professor of space physics and astronomy, (713) 527-4634 Astronomers Available to Discuss Leonid MeteorShowersRice University astronomers areavailable to discuss the annual Leonid meteor showers, which may be visible inHouston in the early morning hours between 3-6 a.m. on Nov. 17 and 18. On anyaverage night, a viewer may see five-seven meteors, or shooting stars, eachhour. But during a meteor shower, that number can increase to 15-100 each hour.Viewers should look generally toward the East–the meteors willappear to come from the “sickle” or “question mark” of the Constellation Leo. Nobinoculars or telescopes are necessary, just a comfortable chair.The Leonid showers occur each November when the Earth crossespaths with the debris of a comet called 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. The typical rate ofthe Leonid meteors is about 15 per hour under ideal observing conditions.However, about every 33 years or so, when Earth passes particularly close to thedebris following in the comet’s wake, the Leonids have been known to produce “blizzards,” with meteors falling at a rate of 40 each second. The last suchstorm was in 1966, so this year and next may bring another big storm.The peak Leonid meteor shower activity is expected on Nov. 17at 1:43 p.m. CST. Unfortunately for observers in the United States, this year’sshower maximum will occur during daylight hours. While some increased meteoractivity may be visible just before dawn for U.S. observers, the Leonid showermaximum should be best viewed in Japan and eastern Asia. In November 1999, theLeonid shower will be best observed from Europe and North Africa. Office of Media Relations: Lia Unrau, science editor, (713) 831-4793, [email protected] FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThislast_img

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