Shooting Star Spectacular - Leonids


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Join us to learn all about the Leonid meteor shower. Every 33 years a comet called 55P/Tempel-Tuttle completes one orbit around the Sun. On its journey it is directly influenced by the Sun, its solar wind and the motion of its own orbit. The Sun and the comet’s orbital momentum dislodge any loose debris on the comet’s surface and this is left behind in its wake, this is how comets get their stunning tails. That debris trail is left behind to independently orbit the sun and every year between the 17th and 18th November the Earth passes directly through the debris trail left behind by the comet. The fine grains of debris travel into the Earth’s atmosphere at over 30,000mph, this causes their surrounding area to heat up and glow, creating a shooting star. Then in a fraction of a second that tiny piece of comet debris is no more. This will happen many more times between these dates and during the Leonids, in peak observing conditions, one can observe up to 30 shooting stars an hour.

After your talk, if the skies are clear we'll step outside to watch for shooting stars from our viewing decks, there'll be cosy "moon chairs" to sit comfortably under the night sky. Whilst this is happening let us be your guides around the night sky and we will be pointing out constellations and giving you tips on how you can find incredible objects lying in our Galaxy. If it is cloudy our passionate science team will still give you a tour of the observatory and will explain the instruments that we use and there'll be extra talks and activities to bring outer space in to reach.