Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day 11-05-02
Posted on 11/05/2002 5:12:48 AM PST by petuniasevan
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2002 November 5
Explanation: This year's Leonid Meteor Shower is predicted to have two peaks, like last year's. The first peak should come at about 04:00 hours Universal Time (UT) on November 19 and be primarily visible from Western Europe before sunrise. The second peak is predicted to occur at about 10:30 UT and be primarily visible from North America before local sunrise. During these times, the Leonid Meteor Shower might well develop into a true meteor storm, with rates possibly exceeding those measured during last year's storm. The meteors in these two peaks come from sand-sized particles ejected from Comet Tempel-Tuttle during trips to the inner Solar System in 1767 and 1866, respectively. If you're stuck without a view you can still catch the shower by looking for streaks caught by the web cameras of the Night Sky Live Project. Pictured above are several meteors from the 2001 Leonids streaking over Joshua Tree National Park in California, USA.
For the best results, don't actually look toward the radiant (the direction in which the meteors appear to originate). That's like looking up at rain. Instead, turn about 60 degrees (NNE or SSE) and look halfway between horizon and zenith (straight overhead).
The meteors may look close; they're really burning up many miles high in the atmosphere. Watch for bright meteors ("fireballs"). They actually can leave a glowing "train" of charged particles that persists for several seconds to minutes. Rarely, a sonic boom is heard.
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