Sky watchers might see meteors fly by during lunar eclipse this month

Posted on in category Local tagged Astrology , Local , Lunar eclipse , Trending

Tune into the sky late tonight/early tomorrow morning for what could be a spectacular show. Read on to find out more details.

Original article by Jamie Hale of the Oregonian/Oregon Live

Sky watchers will get a treat next week, with two astronomical events in the forecast for Pacific Northwest skies.

A partial lunar eclipse will take place early Nov. 19, according to NASA forecasts, coming directly on the heels of the Leonid meteor shower, which is expected to peak on the nights of Nov. 16 and 17.

Jim Todd, director of space science education at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, said that means there’s a possibility of seeing meteors fly by during the lunar eclipse, which would be a truly remarkable sight.

All of this is contingent upon the weather, which could bring clouds that would obscure both events completely. The National Weather Service has not yet issued a forecast for those nights, but rain is currently in the forecast daily through mid-November.

PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
The partial lunar eclipse is without a doubt the marquee astronomical event of the season (with apologies to the meteor shower). The near-total eclipse will shadow 97% of the moon’s surface, turning it a deep shade of red.

A lunar eclipse takes place when the Earth moves between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow over the full moon. The red color is an effect of refracted sunlight, and is most striking during a total eclipse.

Oregonians will be able to see the eclipse between 10 p.m. Nov. 18 and 7 a.m. Nov. 19, Todd said. The best time to view it is during its partial eclipse phase, between 11:19 p.m. and 2:47 a.m., with the maximum eclipse taking place just after 1 a.m.

Those who miss out on the lunar eclipse will have more opportunities in 2022. Next year, Oregonians will be able to view two total lunar eclipses: one on May 16 and another on Nov. 8.

LEONID METEOR SHOWER

The Leonid meteor shower is considered a minor meteor shower with occasional bursts of big activity. In recent years the event has produced peaks of about 15 meteors per hour, according to the American Meteor Society, and it’s expected to remain at that level until the 2030s.

Oregonians might be able to see meteors anytime during the astronomical event, which started Nov. 6 and will continue until Nov. 30. The best time to look for meteors is just before dawn after the moon has set, Todd said, as the bright moon may drown out any meteors.
He said those who want to catch the meteor shower should get away from city lights and find a dark area to look skyward. While the Leonids appear to radiate from the constellation Leo (hence the name), the meteors are visible in all parts of the sky.
The event is the result of the Earth moving through a debris field from the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. When a piece of debris hits the Earth’s atmosphere it vaporizes, appearing as a trail of light we know as a meteor.

–Jamie Hale; jhale@oregonian.com; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB