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Leonid Meteor Shower Coming Thursday Night

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I really enjoy keeping an eye to the sky, but not just for weather. I'm an astronomy buff, too! Coming this week is the Leonid meteor shower. This is my second favorite to the Perseid shower that occurs the second week of August.

The Leonids can be a bang or bust event. When it is a good event with lots of meteors, it is usually accompanied with crystal-clear skies. The low humidity this time of year really helps seeing the smaller pin-dot-like flares.

Here is a great write-up from EarthSky magazine on the Leonid shower:

Leonids shower

November 16/17, 2012, late night November 16 until dawn November 17

Radiating from the constellation Leo the Lion, the Leonid meteor shower is famous. Historically, this shower has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history – at least one in living memory, 1966 – with rates as high as many thousands of meteors per hour. Indeed, on that beautiful night in 1966, the meteors did fall like rain. Some who watched the shower said they felt as if they needed to grip the ground, so strong was the impression of Earth plowing along through space, fording the meteoroid stream. The meteors, after all, were all streaming from a single point in the sky – the radiant point – in this case in the constellation Leo the Lion. Leonid meteor storms sometimes recur in cycles of 33 to 34 years, but the Leonids around the turn of the century – while wonderful for many observers – did not match the shower of 1966. And, in most years, the Lion whimpers rather than roars, producing a maximum of perhaps 10-15 meteors per hour. Like most meteor showers, the Leonids ordinarily pick up steam after midnight and display the greatest meteor numbers just before dawn. In 2012, however, the waxing crescent moon will setting at early evening, leaving a dark night for Leonid meteor shower.

Fortunately for my morning career, it sets up a great opportunity to get in a good viewing. I hope you can, too!

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