Leonid Meteor Shower 2012: Second Peak

The Leonid Meteor shower peaks again overnight tonight.

If you missed the Leonid meteor shower peak over the weekend, here's good news: This meteor shower comes with an encore, and a second peak performance is due above Urbandale overnight tonight.

Space.com reports that about 15 meteors per hour could be visible early on the morning of Nov. 20 in the second peak of the Leonid meteor shower.

The Leonids are tiny, sand-grain- to pea-sized bits of rocky debris shed long ago by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. This comet, like all others, is slowly disintegrating, and Space.com offers that, "Over the centuries its crumbly remains have spread all along its orbit to form a moving river of rubble millions of miles wide and hundreds of millions of miles long."

Space.com also 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 overnight weather forecast for Urbandale calls for mostly clear skies with temperatures in the mid 30s.


These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according ton 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.

Fireballs may be seen with the naked eye.

To see the Leonids, lie outside in a dark place between midnight and dawn. Point your feet east and look carefully.


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