Set your alarms to rise early this November for a magical meteor shower as the sky once again plays host to an extraordinary natural display of fireworks.
leonid_meteor_shower_1The Leonid meteors (so called as they appear to come from Leo) enter the earths atmosphere traveling at speeds 72 times faster than a bullet from a riffle (1,000 meters per second) to create a fantasy landscape thats truly out of this world. The last time it paid us a visit was ten years ago but predictions are good for this year.
Meteors are the debris from a comet after its orbit has drawn it into the inner solar system and closer to the sun which leads to structure compromise resulting in particles being released into the atmosphere. A meteor may appear to be quite large in size but are actually only as big as a grand of sand. It is the energy generated from the speed of entry which creates the illusion of a big rock plummeting!
For those in the Southern Hemisphere peak activity is predicted for the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday (18/11/09) however to avoid missing the magic shower show you might want to set-up your sky stakeout a day or so before in case Leo decides to let loose his lights early.
For your best view, get away from city lights and head for the open sky of the outback. Alternatively camp-out in a city park or other safe, dark site and lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. When can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper you have found a sweet spot with good night vision. A cup of java might come in handy but otherwise no special equipment is required simply sit back and enjoy the show!

Inga Yandell
Explorer and media producer, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide resources and opportunities for creative exploration.