Astronomy

How to get Optimal Viewing for Leonids in 2010



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During mid-November 2010, the Leonids meteor shower is expected to begin to make its appearance around November 13 and have peak showing from November 17-18; the appearance is expected to last until November 20. On these evenings stargazers should look to see the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight.

November is a busy month for meteor action in 2010. Since September South Taurids made an appearance has a long appearance, and after South Taurids came North Taurids which began in mid-October and is expected to last through early December; peak viewing came around November 12. On the heels of these two meteor shows is Leonids.

2010 is expected to be good for Leonids due to favorable moon conditions that are not anticipated to be an obstruction for stargazers to enjoy the meteors. What is cool about Leonids is that it is one of the ideal meteor displays to observe because it produces an average of about 40 meteors an hour during peak viewing, although in low years may produce 10-15 meteors an hour.

Seasky.org states "The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour.  Earthsky.org concurs that Leonids has produced "some of the greatest meteor storms in history." The last of these spectacular meteor showers occurred in November 2001.

So while this year is not expected to produce this kind of spectacular show, chances are if the night weather is optimal, Leonids can still be seen fairly clearly; optimal viewing is expected to last from midnight until pre-dawn hours. Interested stargazers are advised to start looking after midnight when Leonids begins to pick up speed and will be ideal viewing until about 4:00 a.m.

Stardate.org recommends to "drive north to view the Leonids. Driving south may lead you to darker skies, but the glow will dominate the northern horizon where Leo rises."

Meteors are best viewed under dark circumstances. When the moonlight is bright it can overpower the light of all but the brightest meteors, so in order to view it is best to escape the bright lights (especially if you live in a city or well-lit town) and find a darker place to view Leonids.  The more isolated the better because there will be no obstructions of building lights, car headlights or other brightened conditions.  Expects recommend to recline or position yourself so the horizon is at the edge of the peripheral vision; binoculars are not needed to view Leonids.

If you get a chance, Leonids typically promises to be a good show and this year is expected to have favorable conditions.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy_calendar_2010.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/earthskys-meteor-shower-guide
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors