Leonid Meteor shower


This time it's the Leonid Meteor Shower that runs from Nov. 6-30 and peaks on the 18th. Since the full moon was on the 8th, and the new moon will be on the 23, they should be fine.

The thing about the Leonids is that they hit our atmosphere at 44 miles per second. So, they produce more fireballs than any other meteor shower. They appear to radiate from Leo the Lion. In the early morning, it will be in the east, so that's where to look for them. Look out an eastern window by 5 a.m.

Some constellations to the lower left of Cassiopeia and Perseus are now becoming visible. The highest one just to the left of Perseus is Camelopardalis. It's a relatively faint constellation with eight stars representing a giraffe, but its Latin name means leopard camel.

Its long neck can be visualized as stretching from the Milky Way to Ursa Major and Draco the Dragon. The reason it's so dim is that it lies a great distance from us. The two brightest stars are Alpha Camelopardalis and Beta Camelopardalis. Beta is the brightest one and is a yellow supergiant 1,000 light years from us. Alpha is the second-brightest one and is a blue supergiant 3,000 Ly away.

To find Camelopardalis, look for Polaris the North Star, and then look to the right for Perseus in front of the Milky Way below Cassiopeia. This constellation is spread out between them 2 hands high and 2 hands wide. It's the camel's body with no head or legs. With binoculars, you should see NGC 1502, a small open star cluster in the middle of the constellation. It contains 45 stars and is 3,100 LY away which is why you need optical aid to see it.

Below Camelopardalis is Auriga the Charioteer. When looking at it, 2/3 of it sits in front of the Milky Way. It has 7 stars with Capella at its upper left being the brightest. Since it's the 6th brightest star in our sky, it will easily help you find Auriga which is also 2 hands high and 2 hands wide.

Capella represents the mother goat that the charioteer carries on his back along with her three kids. The reason it's so bright is that she's only 42 Ly from us. It's a binary system with twin yellow giants that orbit each other in 104 days. They're too close to each other for us to see them as two stars.

Epsilon Auriga is its northernmost star on the left and is an eclipsing binary that lasts for 1 year out of 27. This supergiant is orbited by a dark partner, which is why it becomes dim for a full year. The last eclipse began in 2009, so we won't have to worry about it for a while. With binoculars, you'll also see 3 open clusters on Auriga's right side in front of the Milky Way. M 38 is the highest, with M 36 below it and M 37 below that one.

 My favorite constellation Orion the Hunter is now coming up midevening in the east. Now that daylight savings time is over, the sky gets dark earlier.

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