x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 November 2017

Shooting stars set to streak across UAE skies on Friday

Meteor shower expected during the night of November 17 and early morning November 18

Enthusiasts are hoping to see the Leonid meteor shower this weekend, with as many as 20 possible shooting stars an hour. The National
Enthusiasts are hoping to see the Leonid meteor shower this weekend, with as many as 20 possible shooting stars an hour. The National

Skywatchers across the UAE can glimpse the Leonid meteor shower piercing the Arabian skies on Friday night and early Saturday.

The month of November is known for the Leonids, which will be at peak performance this weekend, astronomers say.

The shooting stars occur when the Earth passes through the debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which takes about 33 years to orbit the Sun.

Stargazers can see about 20 meteors an hour at peak activity. And this year is expected to be great viewing as a new moon will occur on November 18, meaning the skies will be darker, making the shooting stars more visible.

“The Leonids are best known for producing great meteor storms in the years of 1833, 1866, 1966 and 2001,” said the American Meteor Society (AMS). “Yet it is not the fresh material we see from the comet, but rather debris from earlier returns that also happen to be most dense at the same time.”

The organisation said that the Earth is not likely to encounter any dense clouds of debris for another 82 years.

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The AMS added: “The best we can hope for now until the year 2030 is peaks of around 15 shower members per hour and perhaps an occasional weak outburst when the Earth passes near a debris trail. The Leonids are often bright meteors with a high percentage of persistent trains.”

The Dubai Astronomy Group will camp under the stars from Friday 9pm to Saturday 4am at a venue that will be disclosed after payment of a non-member fee of Dh100 per person or Dh200 the night of the shower.