Amidst all that shooting for the stars you’re doing at work, you might want to hit pause and watch some shooting stars flash across the heavens tomorrow. You read that right! The Leonid meteor showers will flash and sparkle above Dubai between November 17 and 18 this year. That means it’s time to pull an all-nighter for a spectacular celestial presentation no corporate meeting can ever outshine.
What are the Leonid Meteor Showers?
The Leonid meteors are a trail of space debris left behind by the comet Tempel–Tuttle as it zips around the sun. Every year, when Earth passes through the Tempel-Tuttle’s orbit, the comet’s debris, known as meteoroids, enters our planet’s atmosphere. When these particles of ice and dirt moving at blinding speeds of 71km per second come into contact with Earth’s air they burn up due to the friction.
Like clockwork, the Leonids put on a spectacular show every year between November 6- 30 when Earth and Tempel-Tuttle’s orbits around the sun overlap. Every 33 years, the Leonids take it up a notch and display a magnificent meteor storm firing off at least 1000 meteors per hour. The last such storm took place in 2002, according to NASA. While there’s no meteor store this year, you can expect to see a minimum of 15 meteors per hour during this cosmic fireworks show.
Shooting stars are actually space trash
The resultant glowing fireballs that streak across the sky are visible to the naked eye and resemble a bursting star. And that’s the story of how what’s technically intergalactic garbage gets the magical-sounding misnomer of a “shooting star”. Pretty cool, right? There’s more.
The Zodiac connection
Leonid meteor showers get their name from the constellation Leo. Here’s why: to the people watching on earth, the point in the sky that the meteors appear to emerge from lies within the lion-shaped constellation. The good news is that’s the beginning and end of their connection to the Zodiac sign and they have no effect on your horoscopes this month. Or ever.
Where can you watch the Leonid meteor showers in the UAE?
The Leonid Meteor Showers reach the maximum activity around November 17-18. In the UAE, the best place to view them away from light pollution is in the desert at the dead of night. The Dubai Astronomy Group will conduct viewing sessions in the Al Qudra Desert on November 18, so budding astronomers can gaze at the meteor showers and other planetary objects through their state-of-the-art telescopes. From 10pm to 3am, you’ll stargaze while learning about Arabian Astronomy, participate in a Sky Mapping session and Moon Rise Observation, and learn about the Leonids Meteor Shower through a talk and Q&A session.