Contact: Rebecca Johnson
Editor, StarDate magazine
512-475-6763; [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2011
The best viewing for this year's Leonid meteor shower will be several hours before dawn on November 17 and 18, according to the editors of StarDate magazine. However, the rising of the half-full Moon coincides with the shower and will likely wash out all but the brightest meteors.
Though the meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Leo, the lion, they can be seen in all parts of the sky. For the best chance of seeing them, face away from the Moon (and Leo) toward the darkest part of your sky.
Leonid meteors are not physically associated with Leo. They are leftover debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle. As the comet orbits the Sun, it leaves a trail of debris. The Leonids meteors recur each year when Earth passes through the comet’s debris trail, and chunks of the debris burn up in our planet's atmosphere. Chunks that don't burn up completely, and hit the ground, are called meteorites.
Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.
Established in 1932, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world's largest, which will soon be upgraded to begin the HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.