November 17th, 2015
The Leonids reach their annual peak tonight and observers all over the world will have the opportunity to catch some shooting stars. Meteors showers are caused by comets leaving a trail of dust as they orbit the Sun. As the Earth crosses the orbit of the comet, it encounters the trail and we see a higher than average number of shooting stars in our sky: a meteor shower.
The Leonids are linked to the comet Tempel-Tuttle and have been known to produce some quite spectacular showers with the most active producing thousands of shooting stars every hour.
Unfortunately, we won’t be so lucky this year. Most Leonid showers have a rate of 10-20 meteors per hour and this is the expected number for 2015. As with almost all showers, you’ll be able to see the meteors at any time of night but you’re most likely to see them in the early hours of the morning.
(This is because you’ll be on the side of the Earth that’s moving directly into the dust trail, like being at the front of a car driving through a snow storm.)
If you have the opportunity and live under dark skies, go outside and start counting!
All Astronomical Events for November 17th, 2015
03:59 UT – Asteroid 4 Vesta is stationary prior to resuming prograde motion. (Magnitude 6.8. Cetus, evening sky.)
09:39 UT – Mercury has reached its maximum brightness. Magnitude: -1.3 (100% illuminated, diameter 4.6”. Libra, not visible.)
14:54 UT – Mercury is at superior conjunction with the Sun. Distance to Earth: 1.446 AU (100% illuminated, magnitude -1.3, diameter 4.6”. Libra, not visible.)
The Leonid meteor shower peaks. A maximum zenith hourly rate: 15. (Moon: waxing crescent. Naked eye, Leo, all night but best in the pre-dawn sky. See details above.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
Astronomical events taken from 2015: An Astronomical Year, available in Kindle and paperback formats from Amazon in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom. Night sky simulations created using Mobile Observatory for Android devices.
2015: An Astronomical Year
|2016: An Astronomical Year||2016: The Night Sky Sights||The Astronomical Almanac (2015-2019)||The Deep Sky Observer’s Guide|
(Kindle & Paperback)
|(Kindle & Paperback)||(Kindle & Paperback)||(Kindle & Paperback)||
|Amazon – US||Amazon – US||Amazon – US||Amazon – US|
|Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK||Amazon – UK|
Details of all available books across the world can be found here or by visiting the author’s page on Amazon. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me at astronomywriter “at” gmail.com