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Leonid Meteor Shower to Peak Saturday, Will You Watch?

Mostly clear skies should make it easier to catch the Leonid Meteor Shower 2012 on Long Island. Where do you plan to view it?

Story by Joe O'Donnell.

Skies are looking like they'll cooperate as the Leonid meteor shower gets under way on Saturday in the pre-dawn hours.

But where do you plan on watching it? Long Island's flat topography can make it just as easy to see the event in local backyards compared to parks or along shorelines. Though areas with more lighting may experience duller views.

Space.com has a number of tips for watching the Leonids. The site also has some spectacular Leonids photos. And here's a YouTube video of the Leonid meteor shower.

The show follows some nice shows by the Taurids Meteor Shower earlier this month, and the spectacular Perseids Meteor Shower, which wowed gazers in August.

Weather is expected to be cool across Long Island, with temps in the mid 30 degree range.

LEONID METEOR SHOWER INFORMATION:

  • These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion.
  • One of the 10 cool things to know about the Leonids, from Space.com: "Leonids are spawned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years, it rounds the Sun and then goes back to the outer solar system. On each passage across Earth's orbit, Tempel-Tuttle lays down another trail of debris..."
  • This shower is called the Leonid shower because the meteors seem to come from a point in the constellation Leo. But they are really much closer to Earth than these stars are. The starting point, called the radiant, is found in the part of Leo that looks to be a backwards question mark.
  • The Leonids has been called, some years, a "meteor storm" (rather than just a "shower"), but reports say this year will be limited to "at best 10 to 15 meteors per hour." The last Leonid storm, with thousands of shooting stars per hour, was in 2002.
  • A report, from MSNBC says there is a reason this year's display is a bit different: "Two peaks of activity, one on Saturday morning and another on Tuesday morning (Nov. 20).
  • Fireballs may be seen with the naked eye.
  • The shower began November 17. To see the Leonids, lie outside in a dark place between midnight and dawn. Point your feet east and look carefully.
Astronomers anticipate three meteor showers this November and December, including the Taurid meteor shower, which peaked last weekend. The Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak Dec. 13.

Dec. 13: Geminid Meteor Shower
  • The last shooting star cluster before New Year's is the Geminid Meteor Shower, expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours after midnight between Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. They will be visible in all parts of the sky and streak through the sky at more than 50 meteors per hour, almost a meteor a minute, according to EarthSky.com. The new moon is expected to fall on Dec. 13, making for optimal dark skies—as long as you avoid city lights and clouds, the website states.
Share your tips for photographing the showers. Tell us your favorite places to sneak off to view the skies.
Rosie Grier November 17, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Entire AFTERNOON? You do realize you can't see these during the DAYTIME? You need to get out of bed at the darkest time of night, meaning 230 or 3 AM. There will be fewer neighborhood lights on (people have turned off their porchlights, hopefully) and there is little glow on the horizon from the sun. I went out one year and saw a spectacular show. I think it was the 2002 shower that they mention here. Bring out a blanket,get out a reclining lawn chair and enjoy. Stare at one part of the sky towards Leo, and you will see a great show. The most spectacular ones,if you get lucky enough, will streak all the way across your field of view. I saw one like that during the last meteor shower. Just incredible. The ones that appear to come right at you are rarer still. It looks like a light that just gets brighter for a second, then disappears.
Rosie Grier November 17, 2012 at 03:21 AM
I did see it, but didn't know what it meant. After I posted my response, it occurred to me that you HAD to have been joking.
Rosie Grier November 17, 2012 at 05:06 AM
I was hoping to get some CLEAR skies to go along with the dark, but it was cloudy for the first few days after the storm. Light pollution is terrible around here.
monkey lewis November 17, 2012 at 08:12 AM
I love standing on my deck looking up and huffing deeply the farts that my cupped hand steals from my but

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