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Moonlight challenges Leonid meteor shower maximum on 18 November

15 Nov 2019, 13:32 UTC
Moonlight challenges Leonid meteor shower maximum on 18 November
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For observers in Western Europe and the British Isles, the best prospects for observing a meteor from the Leonid shower occur around the maximum, which is predicted for 11pm GMT (23h UT) on 18 November 2019, but observations made at midnight will allow the radiant to rise higher in the sky. However, the glare from a 21-day-old waning gibbous Moon just 13 degrees from the radiant in Leo will make observations difficult. For scale, this view of the eastern sky is about twice the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length wide. Note that the Moon has been enlarged for clarity. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.Every year from 5 to 30 November, Earth ploughs through debris shed from Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and strewn along its orbit. Most of these cometary dust grains are smaller than a grain of rice, but they enter our atmosphere at speeds close to 250,000 kilometres per hour (~44 miles per second) and burn up due to friction with air molecules some 50 miles (80 kilometres) above the ground, leaving a brief incandescent trail that we see as a shooting star, or meteor.
The Leonid meteor shower – so-called due to the constellation of Leo from ...

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