Leonids meteor shower 2010
The 2010 Leonids meteor shower is about to peak. Those in Toronto hoping to catch a glimpse of shooting stars will have the best chances of doing so in the pre-dawn hours on November 17 and 18 after the moon has set. Being at around 4 a.m., that'll probably be alternately too early or too late for all but die-hard astronomy buffs, but that doesn't mean less-invested viewers don't have a chance to catch a bit of activity.
Despite the presence of the moon and the possibility of variable cloudiness, it should still be possible to see some of the brighter meteors after midnight so long as one has found a viewing location that's mostly free of light pollution. Last I year I speculated that those north of York Mills might have a chance if they got to the top of an apartment building or some other elevated vantage point, but I'm doubtful that'll cut this year.
If you want to ensure that you see some decent activity -- say around 15-20 an hour -- I'd head northeast beyond the Stouffville area, where it should be pretty damn dark. Because the constellation Leo, from which the meteors appear to originate, appears to the east of Toronto, heading northwest isn't as good a bet, though anywhere that's mostly light-free should offer some opportunity to see them.
As far as Toronto locations go, looking up and somewhat east from the Beaches or, better, Bluffer's Park might be a good way to spot a few meteors without leaving the city. Despite their southerly locations, the lake is a pretty good neutralizer of light pollution, and reports from last year indicated pretty good results from these spots.
The Leonid shower is quite inconsistent, so there's no way to offer any guarantees that one will see shooting stars from less than ideal areas, but it's a pretty remarkable sight when everything goes according to plan.
For more viewing tips and information about the history and of the Leonid meteor shower, check out last year's post on the subject.
Photo by glness on Flickr.
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