NASA: Key Details of November Leonid Meteor Shower Revealed in New Video
Sometimes, the most predictable space events are the most exciting ones. One of those moments is the Leonids meteor shower, a prolific display of bright meteor outbursts that’s observable from Earth each mid-November. A new “What’s Up” video released by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reveals when the shower will peak and for how long. Luckily for those on the lookout for wonders, the Leonids are just one of many wondrous sights in the sky this month.
“What’s Up” is a guide for amateur astronomers, led by NASA host Jane Houston Jones, who has been informing the public about the celestial events the agency is most excited about for the past 12 years. This month, Jones advises those who want to witness the Leonid meteors to head outside at about midnight local time and count on seeing about 10 Leonids per hour. The count of Leonids per hour will be a bit lower than it was in previous years. (In 2030, however, you can count on seeing about 15 meteors per hour.)
Apart from the Leonids, Jones recommends a handful of other spectacular displays that will shine in the night sky this November. This month, planets, comets, and asteroids are only a telescope away.
November is a good month for some sweet planet views. This first planet on the roster is Jupiter: The fifth planet away from the Sun and the largest in our Solar System will be visible at sunset for the first week of November for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere. After November 26, it will briefly fade from sight because of solar conjunction — when the sun will lie directly between Earth and Jupiter. For Jupiter fans, that’s no need to worry because in December it will reappear in the early hours of the morning.
Meanwhile, early risers should pay attention on November 11 at about 8:45 am EST. That’s when Venus will be bright in the predawn sky, directly beneath the bright star Spica. If you miss Venus in the morning, you’ll have another chance that day to see a celestial spectacle because at 8:45 pm EST Saturn can be seen alongside the crescent moon. Finally, the best night to see Mars will be when it’s at its brightest on November 14.
From November 1 to 22, keep an eye out for Asteroid 3 Juno. This asteroid, the third one ever discovered, is categorized as the 11th brightest astronomers have discovered. Named for the Roman goddess Juno, it will be seen at its brightest since 2005, allowing amateur astronomers to see it with only binoculars or a telescope. The 160-mile wide asteroid will come within 92,955,806 miles from Earth, the closest it will get to our planet until it zooms by again in 2031.
On November 16, 19, 22, and 25 you’ll want to go outside with either binoculars or a telescope. Those are the nights when a hyperactive comet labeled 46P/Wirtanen can be seen streaking in the night as it crosses between Mars and Earth’s orbits. Shining with an apparent magnitude of 7.5, Wirtanen should be able to be seen on the left of the constellations of Taurus and Orion and on the right of Pisces. Things will only get better in December — on December 10, Earthlings will be able to see this comet with a naked eye.