This isn’t an average shooting star.
The Leonid meteor shower is semi-rare phenomenon that is a result of outbound particles emitted by comet 55P Temple-Tuttle. Studies have shown that the storm, which occurs roughly every 33 years, will skip its cycles scheduled for the years 2033 and 2066. It will not occur again until 2099.
The Leonid storm is active throughout the month of November, and will peak the night of the 17th, somewhere between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Many CU students are excited to watch the meteor shower, some even planning to pull all-nighters with their friends.
“We’ll stay up drinking our espressos,” said Lauren Meredith, a 20-year-old sophomore pre-journalism major.
With espresso in hand, Meredith and her friend, Emily Simpson, plan on watching the meteor shower on Tuesday night.
“I’m planning on wishing on every little star that falls,” said Simpson, a 19-year-old sophomore marketing major.
According to The American Meteor Society, meteoroid “streams” are produced each time a comet swings by the sun. If the orbit of the comet intersects with the orbit of the earth, small particles from the streams enter earth’s atmosphere, creating the meteor shower.
This explains why showers occur regularly, every year, few years or few tens of years.
“I think they just remind you of how small you are,” said Ali Mason, 20-year-old junior religious studies major. “I took an astronomy class last year, and they tell you about the size of stuff, and [the stars] look so small and stuff, but they’re huge.”
Although many students would like to watch the shower on Tuesday night, many are concerned about being hindered by homework.
“Depends on schoolwork,” said Dustin Oldfield, a 21-year-old senior history major. “I would definitely watch it if it were during Thanksgiving break.”
Others think the timing is perfect.
“It’s an awesome way to end before break,” said Jules Daly, a 19-year-old sophomore open-option major. “It’s just another way to take in the beauty of Boulder.”
For those who do watch the show, The American Meteor Society encourages viewers to keep an eye out for “earthgrazers.”
According to the Web site, these meteors are not the average shooting star, and “The brightest ones can stretch from horizon to horizon, lasting five seconds or more [an eternity compared to the average duration of 0.3 seconds].”
Packing refreshments and cozy blankets will help make the viewing the meteor shower more fun. Watching the spectacle someplace far from city lights is recommended. Places like Flagstaff Mountain or somewhere out towards Nederland are perfect locations to watch the meteor shower.
“I think the best place to watch it would be like Flagstaff or somewhere high up in the mountains where the light from the city won’t ruin it,” said Brian Hughes, a 20-year-old junior classics major.
Hughes said if he watches the shower he plans on making hot chocolate, and bringing blankets, binoculars, orange soda and s’mores.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Ana McIntosh at Ana.email@example.com.