Leonid Meteors Tonight!

You should go outside and watch the Leonid meteor shower tonight (Friday Nov. 16, 2012). It will produce many more shooting stars than the normal 6-10 per hour, and if we’re lucky, it’ll be a one-per-second show. It all depends on the density of the stream that the Earth is passing through (see the link).

What I find coolest about these periodic meteor showers is that you can see exactly which direction the Earth is flying by following the various meteor trails back to their point of origin. The spot in the sky from which they all seem to originate is the direction that the Earth is passing through the cometary leftovers. That’s cool.

According to the wikipedia post, the Leonids hit the Earth at 72 km/sec, which if you know a bit of orbital mechanics means that the shower stream is orbiting the Sun in retrograde, as that’s the only way a sun-orbiting body can impact the Earth at that speed.

Like I said, very cool.

I don’t have a good viewing location around me, but I’ll go out on my porch with my sleeping bag and just hang out watching the sky.

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