Tech & Science: The Leonid Meteor Shower Explained in 10 Facts - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Tech & Science The Leonid Meteor Shower Explained in 10 Facts

17:20  17 november  2019
17:20  17 november  2019 Source:   space.com

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Leonids meteor shower facts of the Tempel-Tuttle comet. Most of the shooting stars in the annual Leonid meteor shower are the result of tiny bits of material, the size of sand grains or peas, blown off a comet and wafting through space for centuries.

[Top 10 Leonid Meteor Shower Facts ]. When to see them. The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the night of Sunday, Nov. 17, and early the following morning. Skywatchers may be able to see some meteors on days just before and after the peak, although the moon will continue to obstruct views.

a close up of a bowl: Moderate Leonid Meteor Shower Doesn't Disappoint Skywatchers © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Moderate Leonid Meteor Shower Doesn't Disappoint Skywatchers

Each year around Nov. 17-18 the Leonid meteor shower peaks, offering up several shooting stars an hour. In some years there are dramatic bursts in which many meteors rain down every minute. The 2019 Leonid meteor shower will peak overnight Nov. 17-18.

Learn what's behind this fickle show with these fun facts here!

If you capture an amazing photo or video of the 2019 Leonid meteor shower and you'd like to share it with us and our partners for a story or image gallery, send images and comments in spacephotos@space.com.

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November’s wonderful Leonid meteor shower happens every year around November 17 or 18, as our world crosses the orbital path of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Although this shower is known for its periodic storms, no Leonid storm is expected this year. Keep reading to learn more.

The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak Sunday night into Monday morning. Here's how to increase your chances of spotting a shooting star. Like all meteor showers , the Leonids are caused by meteoroids from outer space burning up on their descent toward Earth.

Editor's note: This updated story was originally posted in November 2010.

Leonids are ancient history

Bill Swails, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Bill Swails, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado

Most of the shooting stars in the annual Leonid meteor shower are the result of tiny bits of material, the size of sand grains or peas, blown off a comet and wafting through space for centuries. 

The Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris, each in a slightly different location than previous trails. 

Over time, the debris trails spread out. Each year, Earth passes through different streams, and different parts of the streams, creating bursts of activity and slack periods in the nights surrounding the event's peak.

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Meteoroids, Meteors , Meteorites . Although the meteors appear to radiate from the Leo constellation, it is in fact caused by the Earth intersecting a trail of At the time, an incredible two hundred thousand meteors an hour were seen in the November night sky. Such was the Leonids ’ intensity that many

Meteorites may be briefly defined, as small fragments of astronomical bodies, mainly made of stone and iron, which have fallen to surface of our planet from

Next: Are the Leonids space trash?

Not a piece of space debris

a man in a dark sky: Leonids meteor shower is composed of pieces of the Tempel-Tuttle comet that are termed meteoroids. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Leonids meteor shower is composed of pieces of the Tempel-Tuttle comet that are termed meteoroids.

Hey, wait a minute! I read … Yes, I know. We all conveniently think of meteors as bits of space debris, but it’s a white lie – one we'll keep committing for this fact. For the record, these bits of space debris are properly termed meteoroids. 

When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, the light phenomenon that results is a meteor, according to the American Meteor Society. So another way, a shooting star is a meteor phenomenon, not a chunk of something. That also means shooting stars aren't actually stars, of course, but I refuse to give up that term, too. 

And just to finish this fruitless but mildly interesting discussion of shooting star jargon (quickly, please, so we can move on to the next fact): A meteorite is "a natural object of extraterrestrial origin (meteoroid) that survives passage through the atmosphere and hits the ground. Kids love this one: What do you call it if it misses the ground? A meteorwrong, of course.

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Here are some fun facts on the Leonids , one of the 10 biggest annual meteor showers which has amazed stargazers for centuries 2: The meteor shower looks as though it is originating from the region of sky which holds the constellation of Leo. However, it is in fact caused by the Earth crossing

A meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky called Radiant. The meteor showers listed below are the easiest to observe and provide the most activity. Particular attention should be noted to the time and

Next: Do they reach Earth?

Leonids don't hit the ground

an orange sky at night: Comets from the Leonids meteor shower typically burn up and disintegrate before reaching the ground due to the small size of the meteorites. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Comets from the Leonids meteor shower typically burn up and disintegrate before reaching the ground due to the small size of the meteorites.

The heat created by a meteor (or meteoroid, if you prefer) vaporizes most of them high in the air. 

Even larger space rocks, up to basketball size, typically burn up and don’t survive to the ground, though a handful -- those made of dense material -- do. However, comet material -- the stuff of the Leonids -- is "fluffy," astronomers say. It fragments and disintegrates easily. 

And anyway, amongst the Leonids there are no basketballs. We’re talking sand grains mixed in with a few marbles. All fluffy. 

Most meteors start lighting up until about 60 miles high (100 kilometers). Leonids, for reasons you'll soon learn, move more quickly and generate the beginnings of their demise more quickly. Leonids have been spotted turning on the juice above 87 miles (140 kilometers), where the air is really thin. A Leonid doesn’t stand a chance of reaching the surface, no matter what you call it.

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The Leonid meteor shower is named after the constellation Leo (the Lion), and takes place every year when the Earth passes through the debris field left in the wake of the Temple-Tuttle Comet creating shooting stars, streaks of light in the night sky lasting less than a second as the cosmic debris burns

The famous Leonid meteor shower is predicted to reach its peak in the predawn hours on Friday, Nov. 17. Weather permitting, observing conditions will be perfect: There's a In fact , a single observer will likely see no more than 10 to 15 of these meteors per hour emanating from the "sickle" of Leo, the lion.

Next: What causes their shine?

Leonids don't burn up due to friction

a man flying through the air at night: Leonid meteors move so fast that the air in front of the meteor is compressed and heated by ram pressure, the heated air scorches the meteor. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Leonid meteors move so fast that the air in front of the meteor is compressed and heated by ram pressure, the heated air scorches the meteor.

The myth that meteors shine because they rub against air molecules can be found in many news stories and reference articles about the Leonids and meteors in general. In fact, a meteor moves so fast that the air in front of it is compressed and heated by a phenomenon called ram pressure. 

It’s the same thing that warms a hand-held pump when you work it to fill a bike tire. The heated air, in turn, scorches the meteor. Temperatures can exceed 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 Celsius).

Next: You can hear the Leonids!

You can listen to the Leonids

Russell Zweck and Peter Zweck, Henty, NSW, Australia © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Russell Zweck and Peter Zweck, Henty, NSW, Australia

Meteors leave behind a trail of ionized gas. Sometimes, the signal from a distant FM radio station or TV station will bounce off this trail, overcoming the Earth’s curvature, clouds and city lights and coming in loud and clear, if you know where to tune in. Instructions for listening to meteors are here

On rare occasions, large meteors reportedly generate loud whistling or buzzing sounds that arrive to "earwitnesses" before they see the glowing fireballs in the sky. Sound can’t travel faster than light, but scientists are perplexed as to what’s going on. 

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  Fireball spotted in the skies over the UK and Ireland Fireball spotted in the skies over the UK and IrelandThe object, apparently a meteor, appeared in the skies at 6.54pm on Monday and was visible as far east as South Yorkshire, but was seen most clearly over Ireland.

THE Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight, offering the opportunity to watch a stunning shooting show . Most meteor showers are best seen after midnight and before dawn when the skies are at their darkest. Pay attention to man-made light sources of light, such as street lamps and urban areas.

Many years, the Leonids are one of the best meteor showers skywatchers can catch. Every November, observers can expect peaks of 10 to 15 The particles that make up the Leonid shower appear to emanate from the constellation Leo in the Northern Hemisphere. The source of the meteor

Next: They can hit the moon...

Leonids strike the Moon, too!

Leonid meteors strike the Moon every November, skywatchers observed a brief flash of light visible to the naked eye under dark skies. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Leonid meteors strike the Moon every November, skywatchers observed a brief flash of light visible to the naked eye under dark skies.

Since the Moon ambles through the same region of space as planet Earth, it too is showered by small particles every November. However, there’s a difference: The Moon has no atmosphere to gobble up the grains. So the tiny bits of comet debris slam into the surface and explode. 

Seismic recorders left on the Moon in the Apollo era recorded these Leonid strikes in the 1970s, and scientists first confirmed they occurred with visual observations during the 1999 Leonid meteor shower. In 2001, three separate skywatchers saw one of these lunar Leonids, using telescopes and looking for such events. They observed a brief flash of light equal in brightness to a dim star that would be visible to the naked eye under reasonably dark skies. 

But how can a particle no larger than a marble and weighing only a few ounces create light visible from 238,900 miles (384,402 kilometers) away? Scientists have figured this out in recent years: Leonids travel so fast relative to the Earth and Moon – we'll discuss this power in a moment –that the impact per unit of mass is 10,000 times greater than dynamite. Moon dust for a few yards around the impact area is vaporized.

Next: The Leonids used to spark fear...

Leonids once thought to herald world's end

When the Leonids meteor shower occurred in 1833 was thought to herald the end of the world. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. When the Leonids meteor shower occurred in 1833 was thought to herald the end of the world.

The Leonids typically produce a shooting star every few minutes during peak hours. Interesting, sure, but imagine what people must’ve thought in 1833, back before they even knew why the Leonids were happening. 

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When is the Leonid meteor shower peak this year? Leonid meteors break out into the atmosphere towards the end of November, around the Meteor showers are best seen after midnight and before dawn local time when the skies are at their darkest. You will also need to pay attention to manmade

What is the Leonid meteor shower ? The Leonids are usually one of the more prolific annual meteor showers , with fast How can I watch the Leonid meteor shower ? Hunting for meteors , like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting Leonid facts . If you trace the path that the meteors take, they seem to

For several hours over the United States that year thousands and thousands of meteors at a time rained down. That’s more shooting stars in few minutes than you’ll probably see in your whole life. The display was so bright it woke people up! 

And, as you might guess, here’s what some of them thought: The world was going to end.

Next: What's up with their parent comet?

Comet Tempel-Tuttle keeps getting lost

a star in the sky: Comet Temple-Tuttle takes 33 years around the Sun and the comet would get lost until it was connected to the annual Leonid meteor shower. © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Comet Temple-Tuttle takes 33 years around the Sun and the comet would get lost until it was connected to the annual Leonid meteor shower.

When a comet takes 33 years to go around the Sun (compared to one year for Earth) it goes way out there and tends to get lost. 

Comet Tempel-Tuttle, responsible for the Leonids, gets lost a lot. It also gets found now and then. Tempel-Tuttle was "discovered" by William Tempel in late 1865 and independently by Horace Tuttle in early 1866. Astronomers then figured out it had been observed in 1366 and 1699, too. An orbit was calculated, and they determined that the comet was connected to the annual Leonid meteor shower. 

Nobody saw Tempel-Tuttle again until 1965, however. Then on March 4, 1997, armed with great orbital data, Karen Meech, Olivier Hainaut and James Bauer at the University of Hawaii "recovered" the comet yet again. Tempel-Tuttle will next return to the inner solar system in the year 2031.

Next: They are super powerful...

The power of the Leonids

Brian Scott, Los Angeles, CA © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Brian Scott, Los Angeles, CA

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. 

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The Leonid meteor shower , one of the most celebrated of the year's annual "shooting star" In fact , comparatively speaking, this is going to be a lean year for the Leonids . I'll explain why in a The meteors are spawned by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which sweeps through the inner solar system every

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.

Next: They're cosmic time capsules...

Leonids are time capsules, and maybe more

a close up of food: George Willis © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. George Willis

As you scan for Leonids, consider what you’re looking for: Tiny bits of primordial material generated in the cataclysm that was our solar system’s birth. 

The Leonids are bits of comet debris, and scientists think comets formed along with the solar system’s generation, some 4.6 billion years ago, when the Sun condensed out of a cloud of hydrogen, helium and some dust. Tempel-Tuttle built itself out of some leftovers and has been looping around the Sun ever since, presumably, and its heart is pristine. Until corrupted on each pass by solar radiation that boils some of the comet into space. 

The streaks of light you’ll see as these meteoroids strike the atmosphere probably represent the best glimpse you’ll ever have at the brimstone that ruled the solar system in the early days, before the planets had swept most of the leftovers up. Back then, stuff small and large hit Earth all the time. I say probably see because there are grander examples of this housecleaning to come: comets like Tempel-Tuttle do strike Earth now and then, and always will. That’s an event you don’t want to witness. And you probably won’t have to. 

No comets (or asteroids) are known to be on collision courses with Earth right now. Odds are a big one won’t hit for a long, long time. Meanwhile, the ephemeral Leonids (or any meteors) are prized targets of scientific study, and scientists have used airplanes to examine a few at pretty close range in recent years. 

What did they find? 

Nothing less than the seeds of life, chemical precursors to biological activity that might long ago have survived inside a comet during a plunge into Earth’s initially barren womb. Yes, you may be related, in a distant way, to the streaks of light that grace the early morning sky each November.

Northern Ireland weather forecast warnings explained in video .
Weatherman Barra said: "Ever wonder why weather warnings can differ across Ireland, and why sometimes they appear to end at the border?"Your favourite weatherman has explained all in a very handy video today.

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