You don`t have to be a meteorologist to enjoy a good meteor shower, but you will need dark skies and patience for November`s Leonid shower. This year`s viewing window promises to be nearly ideal, as a slight crescent Moon will still be below the horizon. Still though, this shower usually only gives star-gazers about a dozen meteors or so per hour.
Whether you call them falling stars, shooting stars, or by their scientific name, meteors, they all begin the same way – as small particles of debris that burn up in the Earth`s atmosphere and emit a visible light trail. Most meteors range around the size of a pebble and streak across the sky at 10 to 20 miles per second. However, the Leonids are the fastest of all of the meteor showers, with the meteors travelling upwards to 40 miles per second. That`s about 200 times faster than the speed of sound!
Now in general, you can see meteors any night of the year – but at certain times you can get a shower. A meteor “shower” is a brief period of increased meteor activity, occurring at regular intervals and coming from a particular part of the sky.
The main meteor shower in November is called the Leonids because the meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation of Leo. The meteors themselves are pieces of debris from the path of the comet Tempel-Tuttle, and as they crash into the Earth`s atmosphere, they put on their celestial show.
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