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Leonid meteor shower peaks early Tuesday

The Denver Post

The annual Leonid meteor shower peaks early Tuesday across North America, although experts say there should be good viewing in the hours before and after the peak.

Skies in Colorado are expected to be clear tonight and Tuesday morning. The peak is expected at about 2 a.m. MST Tuesday.

Skywatchers should expect a good show with 20 to 60 meteors per hour just before dawn, according to officials at Fiske Planetarium on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus.

The Leonid meteors recur each year when Earth passes through the debris trail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The meteors appear to fall from the constellation Leo the Lion, but they are not actually associated with it.

Each time the comet gets closer to the sun in its orbit, it sheds material, which creates clumps in its orbit.

If Earth passes through one of these clumps, viewers could see hundreds of meteors per hour. During the 1999-2002 period, there were “storms” of Leonid meteors, with outbursts of more than 1,000 meteors per hour.


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