Another big show of shooting stars is heading our way next week. Since, Wednesday the 10th, the annual Leonid Meteor shower has been popping during the overnight hours. The Leonid showers run from November 10th through the 23rd.
The biggest show will be early on Wednesday November 17th when the shower peaks over our eastern skies. But, this year the show won’t be as brilliant as last year. The reason, the bright moonlit skies. We have a full moon coming up on the 21st, so light from the moon will interfere with seeing the meteors until after midnight. Then, on Wednesday morning at 3am the peak can be seen from Denver and North America. Expert astronomers are estimating around 20 meteors per hour at 3 AM on the 17th.
The Leonid meteors blast into our atmosphere at about 158 thousand miles per hour! At this speed the meteors vaporize and look like shooting stars. They are actually, tiny specks of dust and debris that is pushed out of a comet, the Comet 55p/Tempel-Tuttle, to be exact.
At this point, it looks like Wednesday morning should be mostly clear and cold. So you may lose some sleep by getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning, but, it sure will be a good watercooler conversation starter.
- by Dave Aguilera