Leonid Meteor Shower highlights sky-watching events in mid-November
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Leonid Meteor Shower is visible now through Tuesday, Nov. 17. The shower peaks the early morning hours of Tuesday.
The shower happens when the Earth passes through the debris trail of the Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The best Leonid showers occur during years when the comet is at its closest approach to the Sun. 2020 is not one of those years.
We can hope for about 15 meteors per hour at best. Leonids are known for producing bright, persistent trails.
And it is November, which means Orion the Hunter is very visible in the mid-evening sky.
Orion is a favorite constellation by avid and amateur sky watchers as it is fairly easy to spot by the hunter’s three-star diagonal belt. While you’re watching for Leonids, see if you can spot Orion and his two-hunting companions, Canis Major and Canis Minor.
If a meteor shower and outstanding Orion aren’t enough reason to check out the mid-November sky, here’s one more: Moon, Mercury and Venus. OK, that’s actually three more, but the three will rendezvous in the eastern sky about an hour before dawn.
Sunrise is at about 7 a.m. now, so check it out around 5 or 6 a.m. You may spot Venus first as it outshines Mercury by over 20 times.
Mercury is holding its own right now as it is brighter than a first-magnitude star. Mercury will be the lowest on the horizon and, as a result, the toughest to see as it will be near the morning twilight.
You may even see the star Spica before you find Mercury, but look closer and you’ll find Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.
There may be a few clouds in the sky, but the waning crescent moon will provide a dark enough back drop for the sky-watching events to stand out the next few days.
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