Volume: 01, Issue: 16 11/05/2003 
Photograph taken from the Flying Field in Charles City County, Virginia on Nov. 18, 2001. Photo courtesy NASA.
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High-speed imaging shows details in the head of a meteor that reveal the dimensions and shape of the sources of light that make a shooting star. Image obtained by Prof. Hans Stenbaek-Nielsen of the University of Alaska. Photo courtesy NASA-ARC.
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Leonid Meteor storm of Nov. 1999.  Photo Courtesy ESA-SOHO.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
Total Lunar Eclipse the Night of November 9
California Wildfires Captured by International Space Station Crew
Astronomers Find Nearest Galaxy to the Milky Way
A Week of Extraordinary Solar Activity
 

Double Your Viewing Pleasure

Leonid meteor showers will grace the night skies not once but twice this November. Look to the sky Thursday, Nov. 13 and Wednesday, Nov. 19 to see the meteors slicing through the blackness.

The Leonid meteors, which earned their name because they appear to originate from the constellation Leo, are actually debris trails following the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The comet visits our solar system every 33 years, but its remaining debris keeps the Leonid showers alive year after year.

"Our planet glides through the debris zone every year," said Bill Cooke of the Space Environments Group at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. "It's like a minefield. Sometimes we hit a dust trail, sometimes we don't."

On rare occasions, meteor storms can result from direct impacts with heavy debris. Meteor storms are classified as showers of more than 1,000 falling stars per hour, and as many as 10 shooting stars can be seen during a single second of viewing. Leonid meteor storms occurred in 1966 and 2001.

This year’s first shower will be visible from the United States in the morning of Nov. 13. The part of the country surrounded by or bordering the Pacific Ocean will have the best view of the natural spectacle. Peak viewing time will occur in Los Angeles at 5:15 a.m., Fairbanks, Alaska at 7:00 a.m., and Honolulu, Hawaii at 5:30 a.m., all local times.

Most Americans will have a better view during the early morning hours of Nov. 19. Los Angeles will see the peak of the shower at 12:00 a.m. local time, with Denver at 12:45, Chicago at 1:30, Dallas at 1:45, Miami and New York at 2:30, and San Juan, Puerto Rico at 3:30.

In order to get the best view possible of the Leonid showers, experts agree a few simple steps can be taken. Interested observers should avoid city lights and look away from the moon. It is also beneficial to watch from a high altitude, concentrating specifically on the area around the constellation Leo.

For more information about the Leonid meteors, visit:
http://www.science.nasa.gov/

    
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