The Leonid meteor shower for 2010 is here! Â The annual space spectacle takes place every mid-November and dazzles the sky with an array of brilliance. Â The Leonid meteor shower for 2010 is peaking now through November 18. Â But, what is it, and what are the best times to see the display?
What is the Leonid meteor shower?
During the early times of space exploration,Â astronomersÂ discovered cosmic material that had a predictable orbit and was characterized by streams of bright particulates that were loosely bound in some instances, and tightly bound in others.
It appears that the cosmic particles are remnants of exploding stars made up of dust flares and cosmic gas. Â The resultant comet material, some as tiny as a grain of sand, passes in and out of the Earth's orbit and leaves a trail of brilliance. Â We call it shooting stars, but scientists call it the Leonid meteor shower.
Over the years, scientists have determined with a degree of certainty that every 33 years, the Earth comes into contact with a dense knot of material. Â This encounter has created some of the most dazzling spectacles on record of Leonid meteor showers, some numbering in the hundreds of thousands per hour.
Sadly, this year will not be even close. Â Experts tracking the course of the Leonid meteor shower for 2010 predict that we will only see a fraction of the amounts seen in 1966 and 1999, to name a few.
Viewing tips and the best time to see the Leonid meteor shower 2010?
According to space scientists, because the moon is in a phase casting light throughout the night sky, it will limit what we can observe with the naked eye. Â Therefore, from the moment the moon sits and between 5:15 a.m UT, one should be able to strike gold.
It is also recommended to get away from the lights of the big city as they will have the same impact as the moon does, lessening the chance you will see the Leonid meteor shower. Â In fact, the best viewing spots are in rural areas or state parks. Â There, be sure to get an easy-chair or blanket to be comfortable to see the entire sky.
Finally, have fun!