From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Meteor terminology
Mains level : Not Much
The Leonid meteor showers are currently making their yearly appearance and will reach their peak in India on November 17 and 18. In August this year, there was another meteor called Perseids Shower.
Try this question from CSP 2014:
Q.What is a coma, in the content of astronomy?
(a) Bright half of material on the comet
(b) Long tail of dust
(c) Two asteroids orbiting each other
(d) Two planets orbiting each other
What is Leonid Meteor Shower?
- Meteor showers are named after the constellation they appear to be coming from.
- The Leonids originate from the constellation Leo the Lion– the groups of stars which form a lion’s mane.
- They emerge from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which requires 33 years to revolve once around the Sun.
- These meteors are bright and among the fastest moving– travelling at speeds of 71 km per second.
- During this year’s showers, peaks of around 10 to 15 meteors are expected to be seen every hour.
- The Leonid showers include fireballs– bright and large meteors than can last longer than average meteors, and “earthgazers”– meteors which appear close to the horizon with colourful and long tails.
What is a meteor shower?
- On its journey around the Sun, the Earth passes through large swathes of cosmic debris.
- The debris is essentially the remnants of comets — great frigid chunks of matter that leave behind dirty trails of rocks and ice that linger long after the comets themselves have passed.
- As the Earth wades through this cloud of comet waste, the bits of debris create what appears from the ground to be a fireworks display in the sky — known as a meteor shower.
- Several meteor showers can be seen around the year. According to NASA, over 30 meteor showers occur annually and are observable from the Earth.