Leonid Meteor Shower 2012

The annual Leonid Meteor shower has begun and the peak is on Friday night 16th until early Saturday morning 17th. They are called so because the meteors seem to come from the area of constellation Leo. Image credit: wikipedia

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Every year about this time the Earth passes through the tail of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. As we entering the debris field, the tiny grains of dust enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, sometimes leaving glowing dust trails.



The Leonids is a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The Leonids get their name from the location of their radiant in the constellation Leo: the meteors appear to radiate from that point in the sky. Their proper Greek name should be Leontids (Λεοντίδαι, Leontídai), but the word was initially constructed as a Greek/Latin hybrid and it is being used since. They peak in November.

Earth moves through the meteoroid stream of particles left from the passages of a comet. The stream comprises solid particles, known as meteoroids, ejected by the comet as its frozen gases evaporate under the heat of the Sun when it is close enough – typically closer than Jupiter’s orbit. The Leonids are a fast moving stream which come close to or cross the path of the Earth and impact the Earth at 72 km/s. Leonids in particular are well known for having bright meteors or fireballs which may be 9 mm across and have 85 g of mass and punch into the atmosphere with the kinetic energy of a car hitting at 60 mph. An annual Leonid shower may deposit 12 or 13 tons of particles across the entire planet.