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Current Affairs

Leonid meteor shower

Date: 18 November 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

The Leonid meteor showers are currently making their yearly appearance, and will reach their peak in India on November 17 and 18.

 

Background

The Leonids emerge from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which requires 33 years to revolve once around the Sun.

 

Details

  • Meteor showers are named after the constellation they appear to be coming from. The Leonids originate from the constellation Leo the Lion– the groups of stars which form a lion’s mane.

  • On its journey around the Sun, the Earth passes through large swathes of cosmic debris. The debris is essentially the remnants of comets.

  • As the Earth wades through this cloud of comet waste, the bits of debris create what appears to be a fireworks display in the sky — known as a meteor shower.

 

Meteor shower

  • Meteors are best seen on a cloudless night, when the entire sky is visible, and when the Moon is not extremely bright. Chances of a successful viewing are higher from locations far away from the lights of cities.

  • The showers peak when the Earth passes through the densest part of the debris cloud. Peaks can last for a few hours or several nights.

  • They tend to be most visible after midnight and before dawn. The showers should be seen with naked eyes; binoculars and telescopes narrow the field of vision.

  • The Leonids will be most visible in the Northern Hemisphere, but can also be seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Meteoroids

  • Meteoroids are significantly smaller than asteroids, and range in size from small grains to one-meter-wide objects.

  • Most are fragments from comets or asteroids, whereas others are collision impact debris ejected from bodies such as the Moon or Mars.

  • When a meteoroid, comet, or asteroid enters Earth's atmosphere at a speed typically in excess of 20 km/s, aerodynamic heating of that object produces a streak of light, both from the glowing object and the trail of glowing particles. This phenomenon is called a meteor or "shooting star".

  • A meteorite is the remains of a meteoroid that has survived the ablation of its surface material during its passage through the atmosphere as a meteor and has impacted the ground.