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Leonid Meteor Shower 2012: Peak & Time On Nov. 17

By Bobby Pollier, EnStars
on Nov 16, 2012 12:08 PM EST
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  • Leonid Meteor Shower
  • Leonid meteors light the night sky in Azraq. (Photo : www.reuters.com)

At roughly 3 a.m. on Nov. 17, the 2012 Leonid meteor shower is set to peak.

Nature's show of astrological proportions will treat its viewers to bright and colorfully lit up skies and the meteors could very well turn out to be the best meteoroid showcase in many years, according to NASA. Even more fascinating, scientists are stating that a new moon will complement the viewing and "set the stage" for the shower to make its way above North America and then increase in intensity over Asia.

"We're predicting 20-30 meteors per hour over the Americas, and as man as 200-300 per hour over Asia," said Bill Cooke, who works in the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. "Our forecast is in good accord with independent theoretical work by other astronomers."

The Leonid meteor shower can be seen with the naked eyes. However, for an optimal viewing, NASA recommended individuals to move away from bright lights and cities. To add to the experience, it's suggested that one lie on his or her back while staring straight up at the sky.

At the beginning of the lights show, one should look for constellation Leo in the sky, which will begin in the northeast area at roughly 11 p.m Friday. By sunrise on Saturday, Leo should end up in the south-southeast region of the sky.

The Leonid meteor shower is well known for its large quantity of particles - 12 to 13 tons on average. It's associated with the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which was originally discovered in 1865. The respective comet usually reveals itself every 33.2 years leaving remnants in its wake. 

Tempel-Tuttle is composed of meteoroids, which are solid debris particles shot from the comet as ice cold gases evaporate from the sun. The meteoroids usually drift while the Earth orbits during the Gregorian calendar month of November.k

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