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I’m Only Happy When It Rains (Meteors)

Well, strictly, that’s not true.  I’m generally a pretty happy person.  Although, I’ve got to admit, 2020 is really testing my optimism to the limit.  Anyone else out there starting to experience severe hug deprivation?

But…good news for us…the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower is coming!  The Leonids is one of three “don’t miss this” meteor showers every year.  You may be familiar with them as the shower that occasionally produces a “meteor storm” – an unusually intense burst of meteor activity that can result in several visible meteors per second, rather than per hour.  We last got such a storm in 2001…and sadly, it doesn’t look like we will be getting another until 2099.  However, the Leonids are also known for producing a lot of fireballs – large, bright, long-lasting meteors – even on years when they don’t storm.  So the Leonids is always worth a look.

Best time to look for Leonids?  Overnight from November 16 to 17.  And since the Moon will be New on November 15, the night sky will be dark!  Should be a great night for meteor watching – assuming the skies are clear!  For best viewing conditions, make sure you have as dark a sky as possible (turn off all your outdoor lights) and be outside at – you guessed it – 2:00AM until dawn.  Astronomy is not a hobby for people who want a lot of sleep.  It’s in those wee overnight hours that the highest possible chance for fireballs occurs – and the Leonids rarely disappoint.  If possible, put the constellation Leo at your back – the meteors will be coming from the direction of that constellation.  Leo will be low on the eastern side of the sky at 2AM – so put East to your back if you can.  Bundle up – it is almost certainly going to be rather cold outside!  No binoculars or telescope recommended for this event – you want to be able to see as much of the sky as you possibly can!  If you plan to watch for more than a few minutes, a reclining chair will help so you can look up a lot without straining your neck.

Want to know more about meteors and showers and the like?  It will be the featured topic for our next STARturday Night LIVE Virtual Stargazing event on Facebook LIVE on November 14 at 7:30pm.  Join us online and bring your questions!  See you then!

Carpe Noctem,

Kelly

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