The Leonids meteor shower of 2022 could light up the sky tonight with massive bursts of bright fireballs, numbering in the hundreds, according to astronomy experts.
While the expected peak of the Leonids, known as one of the biggest meteor showers in the fall due to its bright fireballs, was actually last night, some experts say there could be a bigger burst of shooting stars on Saturday, Nov. 19. this year.
Weather conditions in New Jersey look favorable with much of the state expected to have clear or partly cloudy skies after midnight. But it will be very cold.
“While it may not live up to its historic reputation, it could end up being one of the best astronomy events of the year,” AccuWeather said in a preview of the 2022 Leonids.
AccuWeather says two meteor experts from the American Meteor Society have analyzed the timing of when Earth will move through several trails of space debris from a comet known as 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, and they believe our planet may experience the largest burst of shooting stars. could see early Saturday morning.
If their analysis is correct, AccuWeather says, stargazers could see between 50 and 200 meteors per hour for a short period of time on Saturday. They say the main window for that big eruption could be between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday.)
However, other experts are not convinced that the Leonids will put on a spectacular air show this year. But they say it’s still worth watching early Saturday late Friday night.
During an average year, the Leonids shower usually generates 10 to 15 meteors per hour in dark areas away from city lights. And for some years this rainstorm has had huge bursts of bright fireballs, numbering in the hundreds.
The EarthSky astronomy website agrees that the Leonid meteor shower sometimes overperforms, throwing huge numbers of shooting stars. But “in most years the lion wails instead of roars.”
Experts say the Leonids will remain visible in smaller numbers until December 2 after the peak ends on Saturday.
When and where to watch
You can see the Leonid meteors almost anywhere, but experts say you’ll increase your chances if you head to a park or open area in a rural area, as far away from bright city lights and streetlights as possible.
Bring a blanket or a lawn chair for comfort, and wrap up well as temperatures are well below normal in our area this week. And give your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the dark sky when you look up.
Thrillist.com says “the best time to see the Leonids will be after midnight and towards morning local time” on Friday. “The earlier end of that window may be best, because the last quarter moon rising after midnight “might cloud your view of fainter meteors.”
Thrillist recommends looking at which part of the sky, look near the constellation Leo, the radiant constellation of the Leonids — the area of the sky where the meteors appear to be coming from when they streak out.
“Don’t look directly at the glowing skin, though,” the website says. “The meteors will move away from that point. You will see more meteors by looking elsewhere in the sky.”
Space.com says the Leonids are among the fastest meteors of any major downpour, “hurling across the sky at 44 miles per second.” Such high velocities “usually produce bright and colorful meteors with shades of white, blue, aquamarine and even green, which leave long-lasting streaks or trains in their wake,” notes the space travel website.
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Len Melisurgo can be reached at [email protected].