New Delhi: Sky gazers can look forward to an exhibition of celestial fireworks over the next two days as the night sky will be lit up by the Leonid meteor showers expected to peak Tuesday.
The Leonid showers, known for their outbursts over the period 1998-2002, are the most famous meteors observable during the year. Amateur astronomers in the capital can see about 100 to 300 shooting stars every hour for the next couple of days.
"People can watch out for the meteor showers during the early hours Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be fireballs in the sky," said N Rathnashree, director of the Nehru Planetarium here.
Explaining the method to observe the meteorite, Rathnashree said: "Look up at the morning sky between 2 am and 4 am and you could see beautiful fireworks in the sky as new moon is providing ideally-dark viewing conditions.
"You need a simple telescope to watch the meteor showers. People in the capital should move to the outskirts to have a clear look as morning skies these days are covered with fog," she said.
A meteor is commonly called a shooting star. These shooting stars can be seen on any night, but when the number of meteors is large, it is called a meteor shower.
Meteor showers occur when the earth crosses the cometary orbit. As comets move about their orbits they leave a stream of debris because dust and rocky material is liberated from its head as the ice vaporises.
"The meteor showers last for just a fraction of a few seconds before they are gone. Better keep a close look at the sky for the beautiful show," Rathnashree said.
The Leonids originate from a comet named Tempel-Tuttle, which makes a visit to the sun every 33 years. They get their name from the location of their radiant (the apparent point of their origin) in the constellation.
First Published: Monday, November 16, 2009, 16:31