Basic Astronomy

Leonid meteor shower

Leonid meteor shower is the most famous meteor shower. Annual event of Leonid meteor shower can be seen on 16-17th November. Leonid meteor shower is visible towards the constellation Leo, the Lion.

meteor shower
Animation of a short meteor (courtesy NASA).

During Leonid meteor shower, Earth will pass through a stream of debris which is left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. A meteor shower will be seen when some of the tiny particles in this debris will enter the Earth atmosphere and will burn due to friction with atmosphere.

Usually, during Leonid meteor shower, one can see 10-15 meteors per hour.

In past, Leonid meteor shower produced some of the greatest meteor storm in the written history. In 1966, Leonid meteor shower rate was as high as few thousands of meteors per hour and meteors were indeed falling like a rain. Leonid meteor shower sometime recur in cycle of 33 to 34 years. It produced rate of several hundreds to several thousands in 1999-2002 but presently it is showing much weaker rate.

How can you watch the show?

The meteors of the Leonid shower appear to fall from the constellation Leo, the Lion. You should watch towards Leo when the sky is darkest in your area. The best viewing times are usually about midnight to 2 am.

As always, if you can go far from the city, you will see better view of sky due to less light pollution. You may like to lie on a blanket in a park or rooftop to enjoy the show. It will also help you to have access of full view of the sky.

Related story

Meteor shower calendar

Orionid meteor shower 2012

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