New Delhi: A celestial Diwali is in store for star-gazers who can look forward to see fireworks in the sky in the form of meteor showers on Tuesday night.

Around 10 to 15 meteors per hour are expected to be seen on November 20 (as earth will encounter dust trails of 1400 AD passage of the parent comet 55P/Tempel Tuttle), as per the International Meteor Organisation (IMO).

From 2.30 AM onwards, observers should look towards East direction to observe fast moving bright streaks of light zipping across the skies.

The meteor shower gets the name "LEONIDS" because meteors in it appear to radiate from the constellation Leo, Sri N Raghunandan Kumar of Planetary Society of India said.

Leonids have double peak activity as the number of meteors maximise on two dates that is on November 17 and 20. Telescopes or binoculars are not required to witness this celestial spectacle, he said. Comet 55P/Tempel–Tuttle is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 33 years. It passes through our solar system once in every 33 years. It was independently discovered by Ernst Tempel on December 19, 1865 and by Horace Parnell Tuttle on January 6, 1866.

Leonids can be 9 mm in size and have 85 g of mass. Meteors are startling streaks of light that suddenly appear in the sky when a dust particle from outer space evaporates high in the Earth's atmosphere. The light phenomenon in the atmosphere is called a "meteor", while the dust particle is called a "meteoroid".

When the number of meteors is large, it is called a meteor shower or meteor storm. The shower always happen on a particular day or a time period as it is associated usually with comets.

To see the maximum shooting stars, the area should have minimum light pollution.


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