Novem­ber me­te­ors

WHEN: 6/7 and 16/17 Novem­ber (Tau­rids); 16/17 and 18/19 Novem­ber (Leonids)

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE SKY GUIDE -

Novem­ber is the month in which the an­nual Leonid me­teor shower reaches its peak but be­fore this hap­pens, there’s much less un­der­stated ac­tiv­ity from the North­ern Tau­rid stream. This is ac­tive from 20 Oc­to­ber to 10 De­cem­ber, with peak

ac­tiv­ity oc­cur­ring on 12 Novem­ber. Al­though the shower has a low peak zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of just five me­te­ors per hour, it has a broad peak pe­riod, pos­si­bly as wide as 10 days. The 27km/s en­try speed of the Tau­rids is slow in me­teor terms and this, cou­pled with some good bright trails, make the shower ideal for gen­eral me­teor pho­tog­ra­phy.

Where the Tau­rids are slow the Leonids are very fast, with an en­try speed of 71km/s. Ev­ery 33 years (the length of the Leonids’ par­ent comet’s or­bit around the Sun) the shower be­comes a storm. This year we’re roughly mid­way be­tween out­bursts, the last oc­cur­ring at the turn of the cen­tury, so the gen­eral level of Leonid ac­tiv­ity will be quite low with an ex­pected ZHR be­tween 10-20 me­te­ors per hour.

Ac­tiv­ity nor­mally oc­curs be­tween 6-30 Novem­ber with the peak on the night of 17/18 Novem­ber. The Leonids’ radiant drifts slowly over time but on max­i­mum night it’s con­ve­niently po­si­tioned within the head of Leo, the Lion, in the curved top of the Sickle as­ter­ism. A num­ber of low-rate en­hance­ments have been pre­dicted for the days af­ter the peak so it’s al­ways worth keep­ing an eye out.

The Moon is new on 7 Novem­ber, which is ideal for the North­ern Tau­rids. It’s ap­proach­ing full Moon for the Leonids’ peak, but this shower is best ob­served af­ter lo­cal mid­night any­way, when the Moon has set, so prospects for a de­cent dis­play this year are good if the weather plays ball. As ever, give your­self at least 20 min­utes in com­plete dark­ness be­fore start­ing your ses­sion. Look two thirds of the way up the sky in any di­rec­tion.

The radiant for the Leonid me­teor shower trav­els through Leo’s Sickle as­ter­ism dur­ing Novem­ber

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