Prepare to be dazzled by a cosmic spectacle as the Leonids meteor shower graces the skies from the night of November 17 to the early morning of November 18. Based on the stellar word from the National Institute of Astronomical Research (NARIT), you’ll be able to spot up to 15 meteors per hour during the peak time. This breathtaking astronomical phenomenon annually illuminates our night skies between November 6 and 30. This year, the grand show will reach its height post-midnight on November 17.
Suparerk Karuehanont, the maestro from Academic Services and Astronomical Communications Centre, reveals how this majestic meteor shower, also celebrated as the Lion’s Star Shower, will rain meteors from the Lion constellation in the east. A constellation that, by virtue of its sheer magnificence, roars louder than its celestial peers. If you’re riveted so far, the absence of moonlight will make the spectacle even more enthralling, letting stargazers witness the shower with the naked eye in a dark location.
In a near-magical manifestation, observers should be able to spot bright streaks of light, reminiscent of shooting stars, streaking across the sky. And don’t worry about buying a telescope! The Leonids shower is a full-sky event that doesn’t require one. This fantastic meteor shower is born from the trail of cosmic dust left by the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle comet, which completes a lap around the sun every 33 years. Dramatically, as Earth sweeps through the comet’s path, our planet’s gravitational force pulls the lingering debris into the atmosphere, sparking friction, leading to combustion, and voila! You have bright, shooting star-like streaks rushing across the sky.
The Leonids, in their celestial choreography, dance in a direction opposite to Earth’s orbit around the sun. This creates high-speed meteoroids that speed through space at staggering speeds up to 71 kilometers per second! And did you know, the Leonids are no ordinary meteor shower. It gets its nickname, King of Meteor Showers, from its extraordinary brightness – something few other showers can boast of. To make the most of this spectacle, you are advised to find a dark spot away from city lights. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness for about 30 minutes, and then lay back for an immersive view of the cosmic ballet above.
Got a knack for photography? The Leonids meteor shower is pure celestial poetry waiting to be captured. Arm yourself with a wide-angle lens to capture the celestial spectacle in its entirety, as meteors can appear from any direction, advises Sanook. But hold on, the universe’s cosmic theatre doesn’t end here. Post-Leonids, await the Geminids meteor shower, also known as the Twin meteor shower, lighting up the night from December 14 to the early morning of December 15. If the Lion roared in the night sky, the Twins promise a thumping performance with rates peaking between 120 to 150 meteors per hour, all thanks to the absence of moonlight. Stay tuned to NARIT’s official Facebook page for more on the magnificent cosmic events lined up for you!