Sunday, November 17, 2013

Don't miss the Leonids on November 18th!!

via Spacedex

General information about the 2013 Leonids

The Leonids meteor shower is one of the most famous of the annual meteor showers. While it is known to deliver a great yearly viewing experience, every 33 years it puts on an event like no other. Every 33 years the Earth passes a dense cloud of junk and debris from Comet 55P Tempel-Tuttle. When this occurs, it is possible to observe literally hundreds of thousands of “shooting stars” every hour. The next time this massive spectacle will occur is 2023, but until then, the Leonids should make for a pleasant viewing experience for first time and avid observers alike.
In 2013, the Leonids are best viewed on the night of November 16th though the morning hours of November 18th. Eager sky watchers who are fortunate enough to have completely clear skies may witness between 15 and 20 meteors per hour. The peak, also known as the time frame for the most intense activity, is anticipated during the early morning hours on November 18, 2013. As one can imagine, the less cloud cover, natural light from the moon, light pollution, and precipitation present, the greater the number of meteors you’ll have the chance of viewing.
If you happen to live near a brightly lit city, if possible, we recommend that you drive away from the glow of city light. After you’ve escaped the glow of the city, find a dark, safe, and possibly isolated spot where oncoming vehicle headlights will not occasionally ruin your sensitive night vision. Look for state or city parks or other safe dark-sites. If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough.
For the best view, meteor gazers should face east toward the constellation Leo (The Lion) and look slightly overhead. This way you can have the Leonids’ radiant within your field of view. Leo is the radiant of the Leonids meteor shower, which means that meteors appear to radiate from within the constellation. Correspondingly, the Leonids meteor shower is named after the constellation Leo for this reason.

Unfortuantely, in 2013, the Leonids meteor will peak the day a Full Moon. Due to this, the natural light from the Moon will make it more difficult for stargazers to observe fainter Leonids meteors. If you're willing to brave it out in the cold (or warmth, depending on your location), you may be treated to a modest number of “shooting stars.” Spacedex wishes you and yours an absolutely magnificent viewing experience on the night of Leonids!
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