LOOK UP! 2015 Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight Over Ireland…
The Leonid Meteor shower is set to light up Irish skies from tonight and for the next three nights, provided “Barney” and the weather co-operates.
The Leonids come from comet “55P/Tempel-Tuttle,” which orbits the sun every 33 years. At 44 miles per second, the Leonids are some of the fastest around and peak at about 15 per hour. In 1966, conditions were just right for viewers to see “thousands of meteors per minute” during the Leonids, according to NASA.
The Leonids, which are bright pieces of debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle, will fall to earth beginning at 9pm tonight. The show will begin just before the moon sets, leaving the sky in a darker state, making it easier to spot the meteors.
David Moore of Astronomy Ireland said: “The best time to view the Leonid meteors is after midnight. At that time we are on the leading edge of earth as it travels around the sun.”
Experts say that up to 18 meteors an hour can be spotted, entering the atmosphere at approximately 71 kilometres per second.
Astronomy Ireland are encouraging members of the public to take part in a ‘Nationwide Leonid Watch’.
People are asked to count how many meteors they observe in a 15 minute time frame and email their findings along with their name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The phenomenon will not happen again until the year 2032.
That is the next projected date that Tempel-Tuttle will pass close to the sun, thereby increasing the meteor production rate.
How do I see it?
- Find a dark, clear area away from city lights and other light pollution.
- Make sure to bring a blanket, sleeping bag or something else to keep warm.
- Lie down (feet should be facing East), and let the night sky fill your vision. Try to avoid bright lights like a phone screen.
- In about 30 minutes, your eyes will be fully adjusted to the dark and will spot the flying streaks much easier.