Leonid meteor shower tonight: Don’t wait up in Dallas


Space.com’s story on tonight’s Leonid meteor shower doesn’t encourage me to stay up, or get up to watch (tomorrow morning’s meteor shower, really).  A “strong show,” but not spectacular numbers, and our living so close to Dallas will help obscure much of what would be visible normally.

The first cloud of comet dust was released from the nucleus of Tempel-Tuttle back in the year 1567. North America will be turned toward the constellation Leo when these particles begin pelting the upper layers of our atmosphere, some 80 to 100 miles (130 to 160 km.) above us. Earth’s encounter with the comet dust is going to be brief – possibly no more than several hours long.

Unfortunately, we won’t be going directly through the center of cloud, but rather skim through its outer edge on Nov. 17, chiefly between about 4:30 and 10:30 GMT. As a consequence, the meteor rate is not expected to get much higher than 20 or 30 per hour (on average about one meteor sighting every two or three minutes). Still, this is about two to three times the normal Leonid rate.

At the beginning of this window, it will still be dark across Europe and western Africa with Leo high up in the southeast sky, but within an hour the sky will be brightening as sunrise approaches, soon putting an end to meteor watching.

North Americans – especially those living near and along the Atlantic Seaboard – will be able to watch for Leonids from after 1 a.m. local time right on until the first light of dawn, which comes soon after 5 a.m. local time.

I’ll wager more people will be up watching the new movie 2012 about a wholly fictional collision with Earth than will watch the real collisions from parts of an old comet (Tempel-Tuttle).

More data

2008 Leonids, Chris Peterson at Cloudbait

A composite, all-sky image of the 2008 Leonid outburst over Colorado. Credit: Chris Peterson, Cloudbait Observatory. (NASA) This is a composite image of 141 meteors collected over four evenings, November 16-19 UT. Because the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is spread out. The Moon was present during the peak activity period each night, so only bright meteors have been recorded. The Moon has been removed from the composite image. (Cloudbait)

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8 Responses to Leonid meteor shower tonight: Don’t wait up in Dallas

  1. […] Leonid meteor shower tonight: Don’t wait up in Dallas Space.com’s story on tonight’s Leonid meteor shower doesn’t encourage me to stay up, or get up to […] […]

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  2. Mary A says:

    I always love camping around the first of December – there’s still some out there in the wee hours of the morning, about the time I need to take a hike to the latrine…

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  4. Will Raguro says:

    I just saw some…a little show of 10 here in Irving around a span of an hour. This link show the best place in the DFW area to view it…

    http://texaslesstraveled.com/perseus.htm

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Especially if you see any meteors, can you let us know here with a comment, please?

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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    North Texas Astronomy Club (Sherman area)

    http://www.ntxastro.org/

    Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas

    http://www.texasastro.org/

    I just did a Google search for “North Texas astronomical society.”

    The local museums might have something going, too.

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  7. Ed Darrell says:

    You know, what I’d do if I were gung-ho to get out and watch it: I’d call the local astronomy clubs, and the local observatories and planetaria.

    My guess is that the best bet is to head for the dark — west of Fort Worth, south of the entire DFW area (more lights to the north, I think).

    Maybe Glen Rose.

    How anxious are you to drive?

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  8. sat says:

    wondering if there are any recommended place, in and around irving to see it ……

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