2010 Leonid Shower

2010 Leonids The annual Leonid meteor shower occurs when debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle intercepts the Earth at a very high velocity. This debris lies in a collection of narrow streams produced by different passes of the comet. These streams are pretty well understood, which has led to high accuracy in predicting Leonid shower performance. Except for periods of high activity that occur for several years around Tempel-Tuttle's near passage of Earth (every 33 years), the Leonids are a fairly minor shower. We are currently in a long period of "normal" Leonid activity, on the order of 20-40 visual meteors per hour at the maximum. There was moderate interference from the Moon this year.

This is a composite image of 50 Leonid meteors collected between the evening of November 15 and the morning of November 18 (three nights). Because the images were collected over several hours, the radiant of the shower is spread out. The Moon has been digitally removed from the composite.

Weather conditions were poor in central Colorado during this year's Leonid shower. All three nights experienced some cloudiness and occasional scattered snow showers. Many of the meteors seen in this image were captured behind clouds, and were therefore much brighter than they seem.

Long necklace-like chains are the trails of stars and planets, rotating around Polaris at the north celestial pole.

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