Many skywatchers in India and around the globe are poised for a cosmic treat — the Leonid Meteor Shower which is already underway since November 6 is set to reach its peak in the pre-dawn hours of November 17 to 18, 2023.
About Leonid meteor shower
- It is brought about by the dust and debris abandoned by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.
- It is commonly peaking in mid-November.
- The shower is called after the Leo constellation, from which the meteors appear to radiate.
- This Tempel-Tuttle comet circles the sun at regular intervals of 33 years.
- When the comet passes near the sun, it warms up and delivers a ton of material, shaping a dense cloud of dust and gas around it.
- This cloud follows the comet's circle and fans out over the long run.
- The earth every year crosses the orbit of Tempel-Tuttle in mid-November and in some cases experiences the comet's dust cloud.
- When this occurs, the dust particles enter the earth’s atmosphere at high speed (around 70 km/s) and catch fire, creating bright streaks of light in the sky.
- These are what we see as the 'meteors', the Leonid meteor shower.
- The Leonids are noted for sometimes causing meteor storms described by a higher influx of meteors.
Q1) What are Comets?
These are celestial objects composed mainly of ice, dust, gas, and rocky particles that orbit the Sun. They are often referred to as "dirty snowballs" or "icy mudballs" due to their composition. Comets come from two main reservoirs in the solar system: the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud.