Photos of the Sun

Rain of the Leonids. The solar system with the naked eye

Rain of the Leonids. The solar system with the naked eye

Since people tend to look more at the sky in summer, the Perseids is the most famous meteor shower. But in winter the skies are cleaner, and if we observe them we will discover endless possibilities. A good example of this is the rain of the Leonids. It takes place every year between November 15 and 21, and reaches a maximum intensity every 33 years.

They are called Leonidas because the meteor shower comes from the constellation of Leo. Its activity peaks are due to the fact that Tempel-Tuttle comet dust is not distributed homogeneously throughout its orbit. In the most discrete years, Leonids produce rates of the order of ten to fifteen shooting stars per hour. In the busiest years, they have come to be compared to a fireworks show.

In the image we can see the activity of the Leonids over the sky of Mono Lake, in California (United States), on November 19, 2009. The color of the Leonid meteors is usually reddish, and often leave behind a green wake that persists for several seconds.

The Leonids are quite fast meteors, and their speed increases the farther they appear from the radiant. They enter the Earth's atmosphere at 71 kilometers per hour, and their trajectory is also longer when they are seen far from the radiant.

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