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Spectacular meteor showers to light up night skies

NEW DELHI (PTI): Streaks of fireballs will brighten up the night skies in the next few days as Leonids meteor showers will be seen.

"Sky gazers are expected to see shooting stars whizzing past in the skies at an amazing rate as Leonid meteor showers will be seen on the night of November 17 and 18, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) President C B Devgun told PTI.

"As the night progresses, the number of meteors are expected to rise and if the forecast timings are accurate, it may peak between 0304 hrs and 0314 hrs of November 18 and may have hundreds per hour. But this year, the meteors will be much faster and of short duration," Devgun said.

Leonids are prolific meteor showers associated with the comet 55p/Tempel-Tuttle. They are visible every year around November 17 when the Earth passes through the stream of debris of the comet.

The Indian subcontinent is best placed for the spectacle this year and one can expect a strong outburst (during the peak), where the rates may race up to 300 per hour," Indian Institute of Astrophysics scientist R C Kapoor told PTI.

As the point of origin of the shower lies in the direction of the constellation of Leo, they have been named Leonids.

Leonids are famous for being among the most spectacular fireworks in the night sky since long.

The great Leonids meteor storm seen in the year 1833 become a legend for the great strength it showed up with. It was followed with similar ones in 1866 and 1867. However, in 1998 the showers were much below expectation.

To watch Leonid, the best area would be a place where light pollution is at its minimum, he said, adding an hour or two before dawn should be the best.

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