Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nature Puts on Another Light Show Tonight with the Leonid Meteor Shower.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Well most folks I have talked to today are ready for some cooler changes. I don't blame you if you think it has been too hot! We did have a heat index of 90 yesterday and even last night when I was playing tennis it felt more like a tropical rain forest than Jacksonville, Florida. I did lose a few extra pounds but am still rehydrating today. The good news is that the winds of change are blowing in from the North. These are the same north winds that helped bring snow to the North Carolina Mountains today. By time they whistle through our neighborhoods we are talking jacket weather once again with temperatures quickly falling through the 50s this evening. The good news is drier air will be ushered in setting the stage for great viewing for tonight's meteor shower.

Last night we had a light show about 10 miles high with incredible lightning bolts and jolts across the area as our cold front moved through. We had a few downed trees near Waycross and Homerville, Georgia otherwise we were very lucky. Imagine if we had some instability to work with. That line was impressive considering and folks in the Carolinas were not so lucky with about a dozen tornadoes confirmed and a few fatalities. Here at home, a couple bolts lit the whole house up so much that it had to be within 50 feet, especially after the immediate crash of thunder. Luckily, our house was not hit directly and our family dog BJ who was almost de-furred the lightning was so close is all in one piece! Tonight nature puts on another big show at about 60 miles high. It is the Leonid meteor show. It is known for producing the fastest meteors that travel over 160,000 mph. This is enough to heat the air in front of their path to an incredible 3,000 degrees helping the sand grain size particles to burn up. We are basically traveling into comet debris and this lights up our night sky.

Keep in mind what makes this meteor shower different is not only the faster streaks of light but it peaks much earlier than usual. Earlier is better. Find a dark spot and look east after 10 p.m. with the peak coming just before 11 p.m. You should not need a telescope and can expect 10-20 per hour. The moon still 55% illuminated will cut down on visible meteors when it rises at 11:39 p.m. So go early, bundle up and enjoy!

Check back on the blog on Friday and I will have the latest on your big holiday week next week. Will the rollercoaster ride continue? I will have your answer.

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