This year’s autumn “rain” of the rising stars of Leontida will peak on the night of Wednesday, November 17 and until dawn on Thursday in the northern hemisphere, which includes Greece.
Leontides is a rain of moderate intensity, but at times it seems very impressive. It usually creates up to 15 “falling stars” per hour, but every 33 years or so it shows a periodic peak with hundreds or even tens of thousands of meteors per hour. Their most recent spectacular year was 2001.
This rain of diatons lasts from November 6 to 30 and seems to come from the constellation of Leo, from where it got its name. In fact, these are the dust particles left behind by the tail of comet 55P / Temple-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865 and every November its remnants intersect with the Earth’s orbit. The comet will approach Earth again in 2031.
As the Earth orbits the Sun, comet debris meets the top layer of our planet’s atmosphere, ignites due to friction, and forms light spheres, known as “falling stars,” or scattering. Unfortunately, the full moon that follows shortly after, on November 19, will illuminate the night sky in advance, making it more difficult to observe the dittons, which is always better when done from a dark location.
An “endless” eclipse
Besides, on the night of Friday, November 19, there will be a partial lunar eclipse, which, however, will not be visible from Greece. The “path” of the eclipse will pass through eastern Russia, Japan, the Pacific Ocean, America and Western Europe.
A partial eclipse occurs 1.7 days before the moon reaches its zenith, the farthest point from its orbit from Earth, which increases the duration of the eclipse. Its peculiarity is that it will not only be the longest-lasting partial lunar eclipse of our century, but the one with the longest duration until 2669, according to the Holcomb Observatory in Indiana, USA.
According to the US space agency (NASA), the total eclipse – which will cover 97% of the full moon – will last about 3.5 hours, while the total phenomenon – including the shadow – will last six hours. The longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century so far had occurred in 2018 and lasted one hour and 43 minutes.
It was preceded by a total lunar eclipse on May 26 this year, followed by a total lunar eclipse on May 15, 2022 and another on November 7, 2022. Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are almost aligned (conjugation), resulting in the moon passing through the shadow of the Earth and thus taking on a reddish hue.
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