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Leonoid meteor
Credit Wikipedia
Leonoid meteor

This is “Looking UP! in southern Colorado,” from the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society. I’m Erick White, 6th grade student at Sabin Middle School, and there are lots of reasons to look up!

This month we have a meteor shower visible to listeners in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico: the Leonids. 

What is a meteor shower?  A meteor shower happens when Earth passes through the debris trail of a comet.  A comet is a big ball of ice and dust that orbits the sun. Most comets originate in the Kuiper Belt which lies beyond the orbit of Pluto. Occasionally a comet will be pulled into the inner solar system by the Sun’s gravity and enter into an egg shaped orbit around the sun. As the comet gets closer to the Sun, it leaves a trail of debris.  You see this debris trail as the tail of the comet in the night sky.

The Leonids are made by the Earth passing through the tail of comet Temple-Tuttle.  Bits of comet, no bigger than a speck of dust, will hit Earth’s atmosphere travelling at thousands of miles per hour.  That heats them up and causes them to glow, which is what you see as they shoot across the sky.  

The Leonids will be peaking on the seventeenth and eighteenth of November. This, however, is on a school night, so you’ll have to ask your parents permission to stay up late because the best time to see them will be around midnight, provided there’s no clouds. It will also be easier to see them from some place with no light pollution like up in the mountains.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Leonids, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit KRCC.org or CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties!

These two minutes are dedicated to Jim West, a great man who always helped others to find the joys and wonders in life. We’ll miss him a lot. The heavens weep, but continue to shine.  Ad astra per aspera.  Goodbye Mr. West.

This is Erick White for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, telling you to keep looking up, Southern Colorado!