Leonid Meteor Shower Over Oregon, Portland, the Coast Sunday Night
(Portland, Oregon) – Inland Oregon, Portland and the Oregon coast look to be lucky this week as conditions should be decent – but chilly – for watching the Leonid meteor showers. They show up November 16 through 18 – Sunday morning through Tuesday – reaching their height in the wee hours of Monday morning (just after midnight on Sunday).
Jim Todd, planetarium manager at Portland's OMSI, said the Earth will pass close to the trails of cometary debris from Comet Temple-Tuttle, thus producing the annual Leonid Meteor shower.
“The good news is that, this year, the waning crescent moon won’t substantially interfere on the peak, but the less good news is that the meteor shower is much weaker than around the turn of the millennium and perhaps only a dozen meteors will be seen per hour,” Todd said.
The best time to find them will be after midnight as this hemisphere is facing the stream of cometary debris. The dust particles that are swept up by the Earth are released as Comet Temple-Tuttle rounds the Sun every 33 years. As implied by the name, the radiant of the shower - from where the meteors appear to radiate from - lies within the head or Sickle of the constellation Leo the Lion.
Todd said the Leonids are created by bits of debris left behind by the repeat passages through the inner solar system of comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. There are several streams. This year, Earth passed through one way back in the year 1466. Most astronomers do not expect it to produce much.
The 2001 Leonid meteor storm was an especially huge one, Todd said. This display began on Sunday morning, November 18 that year, when Earth glided into a dust cloud shed by comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1766. Thousands of meteors per hour rained over North America and Hawaii. Then, on Monday morning November 19th (local time in Asia), it happened again: Earth entered a second cometary debris cloud from Tempel-Tuttle. Thousands more Leonids then fell over east Asian countries and Australia.
To check this one out you'll need to find a dark sky location – which won't be a problem along the Oregon coast or other rural towns in Oregon. You'll have to brave some cold temps, in the upper 30's and low 40's for the western half of the state, but conditions look to be fairly clear.
Todd said the most will be seen between midnight on Sunday and 5 a.m. on Monday morning.
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