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LEONID METEOR SHOWER ­ 17/18 NOVEMBER 2000

Meteors from the constellation of Leo will light up the sky on the nights of 17 & 18 November when astronomers all over the world will be watching the annual Leonid meteor shower.


For observers in the UK and Europe, the best chance of seeing meteors will be at 03:44 on the morning of 18 November, as the Earth passes close to a stream of debris released by comet Temple-Tuttle 260 years ago. At this time it may be possible to see as many as 100 meteors an hour. This is ten times the background rate that can be seen on any other night of the year.


The Earth¹s orbit passes close to the comet Temple Tuttle¹s orbit each year in November and during this time the Earth collides with particles of cometary debris which follow the comet¹s orbit.

Meteors can be seen on any clear night of the year and most are caused by particles no bigger than grains of sand, which collide with the Earth¹s atmosphere at up to 70km per second (157,000 mph) and burn up. Fireballs are caused by meteors a few centimetres in diameter and can leave tails that persist for several minutes.

Dr Robert Massey will be taking students from the Royal Observatory¹s GCSE astronomy class out to a dark site in the Kent countryside on the night of 17 November to observe the meteors and measure the level of activity. The observers will also take the opportunity to look at the Moon, stars and planets away from the lights of London.

To arrange interviews with Dr Robin Catchpole, Senior Astronomer, or Dr Robert Massey, Astronomy Information Officer, please contact the Press Office on (020) 8312 6545/6745/6790 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. An ISDN line is available.

 

THE ABOVE PRESS NOTICE HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY GREENWICH AND IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.
Jacqueline Mitton , Royal Astronomical Society Press Officer
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

14 November 2000.

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