I can remember as a child my father taking me and my brother out into the country on a dark and cold winter’s night with a telescope I got for Christmas one year. We would explore the bright, glaring surface of the moon and view M42 in Orion; the only Nebula visible to the naked eye on a dark night and easily found. My father was always good in urging us to explore and get interested in science and space exploration. My Christmas presents were often such things as telescopes, microscopes, entomology collection and preservation kits, and chemistry sets.
According to Space.com:
A rather narrow but dense ribbon of dust was shed by comet Temple-Tuttle when it passed the Sun in 1932. When the Earth interacted with that dusty trail back in 1969, it produced a brief bevy of some 200 to 300 meteors in less than hour.
In 2006, Earth will be nearly twice as far away from the comet as opposed to 1969, but expectations are that as many as 100 to 150 Leonids may streak across the sky in only an hour’s time as we interact with that decades-old ribbon of debris again.
The expected time of peak activity is 11:45 p.m. EST on the night of Nov. 18.
For those living in eastern North America, the constellation of Leo will be rising in the eastern sky. Unfortunately, those living across the central and western parts of the United States and Canada will be out of luck, since Leo will not yet have risen and the expected peak of the display will be over when Leo finally comes above the horizon.
Skywatchers in Western Europe will have ringside seats: The peak is due early on Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. Leo will be high in the southeast sky, just before sunrise affording the very best Leonid views.
I can’t wait to pack some snacks and a hot thermos of coffee and drive way out spring road until it turns to dirt well away from the bright glare of city lights Saturday night. I will plant my lawn chair out in the pasture, kick back, light up a few smokes, and enjoy the sight show. If you live on the East Coast, be sure to poke your head out about midnight for a few minutes and gaze up into the night sky for a possible treat. Don’t forget to make a wish while you’re at it if you see a few Leonids.