Stargazers and everyone that enjoys seeing a natural display of stars shooting across the night sky will be in for a treat on Monday, November 17, when thousands of meteors will take over the sky and produce a meteor storm that will almost be as resplendent as those witnessed decades ago.
This night will provide amateur astronomers and everyone else with the opportunity to witness a display of shooting stars that will dazzle the night sky with amazing brilliance; and they need no special equipment to observe the sight: only a comfortable position to sit, a pair of eyes, and perhaps, a glass of fruit juice.
Radiating from the constellation of Leo the Lion, the shooting stars will be seen rising above the eastern horizon at 9 pm local time. And although the moon will be out of sight to provide you a perfect vision, the greatest display of the shooting stars or meteor showers will be before sunrise to the southern skies when the moon will have risen and impacted on the clarity of the displays.
Meteor showers occur annually and the one that occurred in November 1833 was a dazzling Leonid shower that was witnessed by millions around the world. It produced thousands of shooting stars every hour and witnessed by abolitionists like Fredrick Douglas and Harriet Tubman, as well as the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who regarded it as the coming of the Messiah. The one that occurred on November 17, 1966 produced thousands of meteor showers for 15 minutes every hour and subsequent years have also been spectacular.
According to Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society, “Leonids may be seen from the southern hemisphere but the viewing conditions are not quite as favorable as those north of the equator. With an entry velocity of [156,600 MPH], most activity from this radiant would be of swift speed with numerous persistent trains on the brighter meteors.”
Meteor showers occur when the Earth collides with debris left behind by comets as it orbits the sun. It is believed that little pieces of Comet Tempel-Tuttle has been producing the annual Leonid shower displays that many have been seeing in parts of the US and in other countries.