Friday, November 18, 2022

Leonids Tonight

The peak was early this morning but I was not thinking about it and I had no will to stay up until the clouds cleared at midnight.   
After midnight is the best time to look for meteors.  The Leonids are so-called because they appear to radiate from the constellation Leo.  Look north.  This could be awesome.  The 1833 Leonids was known as the night of 100,000 stars because they had 100,000 shooting stars per hour.  No city lights back then; it must have been awesome.  It apparently made quite an impression on the Plains Indians.  

These spectacular presentations were at 33 year intervals because the clouds of dust particles left by Comet Temple-Tuttle have a few especially dense spots.  Do not expect anything like that early Saturday morning but if are still awake at midnight, put on your warmest coat and look north.

I was looking at Jupiter the other night and one shooting star went right my field of view, for only the second time in my life.  It was about the brightness of any of Jupiter's satellites about magnitude 6 which would have been below visual magnitude except in an exceptionally dark sky.  

They are out there.  If you see one, it is likely a grain of sand.  The size of a pea produces a fireball, which you will never forget.  Remember that kinetic energy increases with the square of the velocity.  Coming in at 7 miles per second against the atmosphere is likely rubbing sandpaper across wood or metal at a frightening speed 

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