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1998 Leonids Meteor Shower - Windows to the Universe

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1998 Leonids Meteor Shower
News story originally written on November 7, 1998

The Leonids meteor shower is expected to reach its peak intensity during this year and next year on November 17/18th. The best show will be seen this year in Asia and next year in Europe and Asia. During both years any place in the northern hemisphere will see a larger-than-normal display.

The meteors in the Leonids shower are pieces of the comet Temple-Tuttle. The comet's orbit brings it near the sun every 33 years. When it approaches perihelion pieces of it break off and spread out through the comet's orbit. We see the pieces of the comet as a meteor shower when the Earth passes through the comet's orbit, as it will on November 17th.

The name "Leonids" comes from the constellation Leo. The meteors appear to orginate from a point in the constellation. This point is called the radiant because the meteors seems to radiate from it.

The best time to view the meteor shower is in the early morning of the 17th/18th local time. The intensity will increase during the night and will be most intense just before dawn.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF