Friday 20 September 2019

Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak in Irish skies tonight

A Leonid meteor shower
Credit:Twitter/Scott Tully
A Leonid meteor shower Credit:Twitter/Scott Tully

Sarah-Jane Murphy

A spectacular meteor shower is set to light up Irish skies over the next three nights, provided the weather co-operates.

The Leonids, which are bright pieces of debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle, will fall to earth beginning at 9pm tonight.

The show will begin just before the moon sets, leaving the sky in a darker state, making it easier to spot the meteors.

Experts say that up to 18 meteors an hour can be spotted, entering the atmosphere at approximately 71 kilometres per second.

Astronomy Ireland are encouraging members of the public to take part in a 'Nationwide Leonid Watch'.

People are asked to count how many meteors they observe in a 15 minute time frame and email their findings along with their name and location to

David Moore of Astronomy Ireland told that the meteors can be viewed from any part of the country provided the skies are clear.

"The best time to view the Leonid meteors is after midnight.

"At that time we are on the leading edge of earth as it travels around the sun," he said.

Astronomy Ireland is holding an event on November 19 in Blanchardstown and will have telescopes on site to view the meteor shower as the moon lines up with the planet Neptune.

Details are available here.

The phenomenon will not happen again until the year 2032.

That is the next projected date that Tempel-Tuttle will pass close to the sun, thereby increasing the meteor production rate.

In 1999, the last time there was a Leonid meteor shower there were 3,000 meteors spotted per hour.

Spectacular footage of a Leonid meteor shower in Japan in 2001 can be viewed here:

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