What is Leonid Meteor Shower?

The Leonid meteor showers are making their twelve-monthly appearance and had reached their peak in India on November 17 and 18, 2020.

What is a Meteor shower?

  • Meteor showers are named after the constellation they appear to be approaching from.
  • The Leonids come from the constellation Leo the Lion. Leo the Lion is the group of stars which form a lion’s mane.
  • On its orbit around the Sun, the Earth passes through large bands of cosmic debris.
  • The debris is basically the fragments of comets.
  • As the Earth passes through this cloud of comet waste, the bits of debris create what appears to be a fireworks exhibit in the sky — known as a meteor shower.

Leonid meteor shower 

  • The Leonid meteor shower takes place when the Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
  • The shower is witnessed after the debris of the comet enters Earth’s atmosphere and vaporises. As it occurs at the forefront of the Leo Constellation, it is called a Leonid shower.
  • The meteor shower peaks into a meteor storm once in around 33 years and the most recent shower occurred during the year 1999.
  • This meteor shower usually takes place and peaks in the month of November.
  • The Leonids have helped the researchers to develop a scientific study of meteors, after the major Leonid storm of 1833.

How can we see these Meteor Showers?

  • Meteors are best seen on a cloudless night, when the sky is clearly visible, and when the Moon is not very bright.
  • The showers reach at its peak when the Earth passes through the densest part of the debris cloud. They tend to be most observable after midnight and before dawn.
  • The showers should be seen with naked eyes because binoculars and telescopes narrow the field of vision.

What is a Meteoroid?

Sizes of meteoroids are smaller than that of asteroids, and range in size from small grains to one-meter-wide objects. Majority of meteoroids are wreckage from comets or asteroids, whereas others are collision impact debris ejected from bodies such as the Moon or Mars.