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Leonids Meteor Shower

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    16th Nov, 2021

Context

The annual Leonids Meteor Shower has begun. This year’s shower is active between November 6 and 30, with peak activity expected on November 17. 

What is the Leonids Meteor Shower?

  • Originally discovered in 1833, the Leonids Meteor Shower contains debris left behind by the 55P/Tempel-Tuttle comet that enter Earth’s atmosphere.
  • As they fall from the sky and brought towards the ground by Earth’s gravity, the friction of the atmosphere on their re-entry lights up the debris.
  • These debris are called meteors and are seen as bright streaks of light across the night sky.
  • The meteor shower has been named the Leonids Meteor Shower as it seems to emanate from the sector of the sky where the head of the Leo constellation lies.
  • The meteors are some of the fastest that are seen on Earth, travelling at speeds of up to 2,55,600 kmph.
  • The meteors are also seen as streaking very close to the horizon.

Occurrence of the event

  • Every 33 years, a Leonid shower turns into a meteor storm, which is when hundreds to thousands of meteors can be seen every hour.
  • A meteor storm should have at least 1,000 meteors per hour.
  • In 1966, a Leonid storm offered views of thousands of meteors that fell through the Earth’s atmosphere per minute during a period of 15 minutes.
  • The last such storm took place in 2002.
  • The showers are visible on any cloudless night when the Moon is not very bright.
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