For those who like to gaze at the night sky, there will be a lively show this week, as the Leonid meteor stream, as well as the seven planets, will be visible at night; the lack of a strong moon will help immensely to see everything. .
- Jupiter and Saturn will be visible in the early evening, between the 18th and 21st, throughout the Northern Hemisphere, as well as on Mars, Neptune and Uranus.
- The Leonid meteor shower will be most visible tonight, with peak showers forecast for Tuesday the 17th before sunrise, across the world.
- In this period, Venus and Mercury will be bright enough to be seen early in the morning.
These events mark a celestial anniversary, as Jupiter and Saturn, visible side by side in what astronomers call the Great Conjunction, a phenomenon that occurs once every 20 years around the winter solstice on December 21, come together. to all the other planets in our solar system.
As the planets circle the sun in their long orbits, occasionally they all clump together for a few weeks before spreading out again. It is not rare, just infrequent.
How to observe meteorites
Seeing the Leonid meteor shower is something that happens every year. Centered around Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which takes about 33 years to fully orbit the Earth, it gets its name from the constellation Leo, as the point in the sky where most meteors depart is around the mane of the constellation of lions.
Time and date a tracker that updates every hour showing where the meteors will come from and where they can be seen. This year, the lack of a moon and a clear weather forecast for most of North America will definitely help the stargazer see up to 15 meteors per hour.
In 1966, the Leonid shower turned into a storm, when Americans were able to see a mind-blowing streak of 100,000 meteors per hour across the sky, including fireballs that looked almost like ICBMs, or “ground scrapers,” meteorites. low-flying with long, colorful ions. cross.
The last time Leonid broke in was in 2001, but it produced only 1% of the debris mountain range in 1966. The next stormy period, when the comet passes by, will be in 2031.
To see the most meteors, pack a lawn chair, a thermos of tea, and lots of layers, and drive to a place that isn’t too affected by urban light pollution. You won’t need a telescope or binos to see the fireballs, and if you need a recommendation for a good spot for stargazing, EarthSky has one. map of recorded locations in dark sky.
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