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Leonid Meteor Shower

                      Best Time to See the Leonid Meteor Shower Is Now

Every 33 years a snowy dirt ball by the name of Comet Tempel-Tuttle makes a journey around the Sun.

Much like Hansel and Gretel, the comet leaves behind a dusty trail after its frozen surface “boils” away under the influence of the Sun.

As the Earth hurtles around the Sun it bumps into this trail every November and causes a meteor shower that appears to come from the constellation of Leo the Lion hence the name Leonids. This year it looks like the Earth will hit the particularly dusty trails left behind in 1466 and 1533. The result could be as many as 500 meteors per hour in the prime locations. So the obvious question is “From where can this be seen?” Sadly, Sydney is not a prime location……..

..The peak is expected between 21:00 to 22:00 Universal Time (UT) on November 17th which corresponds to 8am to 9am Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) on the morning of the 18th. Although we miss out on the best view it may still be worth an early wake up call and seeking a clear view to the north east.

The Leonids of 1833

“On the night of November 12-13, 1833, a tempest of falling stars broke over the Earth… The sky was scored in every direction with shining tracks and illuminated with majestic fireballs.  At Boston, the frequency of meteors was estimated to be about half that of flakes of snow in an average snowstorm. Their numbers… were quite beyond counting; but as it waned, a reckoning was attempted, from which it was computed, on the basis of that much-diminished rate, that 240,000 must have been visible during the nine hours they continued to fall.” — Agnes Clerke, Victorian Astronomy Writer

So remarkable was the 1833 Leonid shower that 100 years later, Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish composed what would later become the jazz standard Stars Fell On Alabama. This is the Ella Fitzgerald / Louis Armstrong version, recorded in the 1950s  

    Leonid Meteor Strom, as seen over North America in the night of  November 12 & 13, 1833.

From E. Weiss, Bilderatlas der Sternenwelt, 1888.

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