Are We in for a Leonid Outburst Friday Night time?


The November Leonid meteors might produce a shock outburst this weekend.

If forecasters are proper, a infamous meteor bathe might placed on a shock exhibiting quickly, proper after its anticipated peak. The meteor bathe in query is the November Leonids. Most years, the Leonids are actually nothing to get up early for, producing a median hourly price of 10 meteors an hour, barely double the background sporadic price. However each 33 years or so, the Leonids are the supply of nice storms of meteors, because the Earth plows headlong into the stream of particles laid down by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle on its 33-year orbit across the Solar.

The orbit of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Credit score: NASA/JPL.

The Bathe in 2022

Now, 2022 isn’t an anticipated storm 12 months per se: the final nice outburst from the Leonids ran from 1998 to 2000, and isn’t anticipated once more till round 2033. In 2022, the formal peak for the bathe arrives on Thursday, November 17th at round ~16:00 Common Time (UT) with a paltry Zenithal Hourly Fee of 10. The truth that this happens simply in the future after Final Quarter Moon (additionally within the constellation Leo) doesn’t assist issues a lot.

The 2022 Outburst

To date, not a lot to courageous the chilly for. A prediction made by meteor stream modeling, nonetheless, reveals one thing attention-grabbing: In 2022, the Earth might encounter a centuries-old Leonid stream on the morning of Saturday, November 19th. This stream was laid down in 1733, and will present a superb encore exhibiting for the 2022 Leonids, approaching 200 meteors per hour. Not a real storm, however a good exhibiting all the identical… consider the December Geminids on a superb 12 months. The height might be quick and swift, operating from 1:00 to 1:30 AM EST (Jap Time) or 6:00-6:30 UT favoring jap North America.

Trying eastward on the morning of November nineteenth. Credit score: Stellarium.

How (and When) to Watch

If skies are clear, the very best technique is to easily stand out and watch on the appointed time. The Leonids are usually swift-moving, and the radiant sits within the middle of the Sickle of Leo Asterism, assuring that the bathe isn’t very obvious till after native midnight when the radiant has risen excessive within the sky. The Moon could have moved off a bit, and could have slimmed right down to a 22% illuminated waning crescent by Saturday morning, one other plus.

A 4-hour publicity of Leonids taken in 1998 from the Modra Observatory all-sky digicam. Juraj Toth/Wikimedia Commons.

In fact, use of the phrases ‘Leonids’ and ‘outburst’ in the identical sentence at all times provides us pause. Simply how dense the 1733 stream really is is anybody’s guess. The Leonids produced a number of the really epic meteor storms in historical past, notably in 1833 and extra just lately in 1966. We witnessed a effective show of the 1998 Leonids from the darkish sky deserts of Kuwait, with charges approaching 1,000 per hour close to storm ranges in direction of daybreak.

Pickering’s 1923 depiction of an earlier Leonid storm over Niagara Falls, New York. Credit score: Public Area.

One factor is for sure: you’ll see zero meteors when you sleep in. We’re over the half-way mark now to 2032-2033, and the subsequent potential ‘storm years’ for the Leonid meteors.

If skies are clear, be vigilant this coming Saturday morning, and look ahead to a potential meteor stream that has been laying in wait for hundreds of years to ambush the Earth.

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