How to watch the Leonid meteor shower in the UAE tonight

Stargazers in one emirate can see the phenomenon with the naked eye

Leonid meteors streak through the sky over Hora Mountain in China's Xinjiang region in 2021. Getty
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The Leonid meteor shower will light up the night sky until November 30, peaking on Friday night in some corners of the world.

And stargazers in some parts of the UAE will not need specialist equipment to see the display as the phenomenon will be visible to the naked eye.

The meteors appear to stream from the head of the constellation Leo — the Lion — which is why they were called Leonid.

They are caused when by the debris left by a comet as it follows its path around the Sun. This enters Earth's atmosphere at speeds of up to 70km a second, vaporising and causing the streaks of light we call meteors.

What time will the meteor shower be visible?

The shower is active until December 2. At its peak, sky gazers could observe 10 to 15 meteors an hour.

An intense outburst can be seen from 1am to 1.30am EST on Saturday, according to AccuWeather Astronomy on Twitter.

In the UAE, the shower will be visible from Ras Al Khaimah after 11.47pm each night, according to the astronomy website in-the-sky.org. It will remain active until dawn breaks at about 6.09am, when the Earth's rotation turns Ras Al Khaimah to face the direction of the incoming meteors.

This maximises the number of meteors that rain down, producing short trails, the report said.

At other times, there will be fewer meteors burning up over the northern emirate, but those that do will tend to produce meteors that traverse a wider area of the sky before burning up, caused by their entry into the atmosphere at an oblique angle.

What are the Leonids?

The Leonids — one of the more prolific annual meteor showers — are usually fast, bright meteors, and are associated with Comet Tempel-Tuttle.

The meteors move in the opposite direction to Earth's rotation, causing an almost head-on collision with the atmosphere when they intersect.

The shower is being broadcast live on the YouTube channel Astronomy Lovers Family.

Updated: November 18, 2022, 8:11 AM
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