Leonids Shooting Stars
18th November 2023. The debris left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle gives rise to the Leonids meteor shower and the debris trail left behind by comet Encke gives rise to the Taurid meteor shower. Join us for an informative talk before heading out to try and spot some meteors (shooting stars). If the weather is good you will also have an opportunity to look through an historic telescope; we have some of the largest working telescopes in the country.
The Leonid meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the deris trail left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle. These meteors are very fast and often leave persistent trains behind them. The peak activity is the evening of the 17th and pre-dawn hours of the 18th November when you may see about 10 meteors per hour. While we are just past the peak you should be able to still see a good few meteors. The natural limits of the shower are 6th - 30th November. The phase of the Moon is two days before first quarter so a waxing crescent. It is 30.6% lit making it quite bright but it sets below the horizon at about 8.30pm so won't spoil the party too much.
The Taurids shower marks the time when the Earth passes through the dust trail of comet Encke. The debris left behind by comet Enke is the largest in the inner solar system and it takes several weeks for the Earth to pass through this trail giving an extended period of activity; 20th October - 10th December. The peak activity for the Taurids is on the 12th November but given the protracted period of activity you may see meteors from comet Enke too.
While we don't use the telescopes to spot meteors, if the weather does permit you will get a chance to look at some other interesting celestial objects through the large telescopes.
The evening aims to be both informal and informative with a talk presented by a guest speaker. Following the talk, if the weather is nice and clear you will have the opportunity to try and spot some fast moving meteors with the unaided eye and look through the telescopes at other interesting celestial objects. If the weather is unsuitable for viewing, the talk will go ahead regardless and a comprehensive tour of the telescopes will replace viewing. On the tour you will be taken into domes not open to the public during the day. We do NOT cancel this event if the weather is unsuitable for viewing.
PLEASE NOTE: Gates open at 6.00pm and the talk will be at 8.30pm. The Centre closes at midnight. All the exhibits will be available for you to explore when you arrive. While you don't need to arrive at 6.00pm the gates will be closed at 8pm so please arrive before then.
If you wish to purchase hot food on the night then our Launch Box will be open from 6.00pm - 8.00pm before the talk starts. The Launch Box serves:
Burger & Fries
Falafel Burger & Fries
Frankfurter Hot Dog & Fries
Food will only be available from the Launch Box between 6.00pm and 8.30pm. The cafe will also be open for hot/cold drinks and snacks plus alcoholic beverages.
Numbers are limited to 100 (age 18+ only), so book early to secure your place.
You may book online using Paypal or over the phone. To make a booking over the phone using a credit or debit card please telephone 01323 832731 to secure your place(s).
If you are looking for a present then a Gift Ticket package is available for this event. Please go to the Gift Ticket page to purchase and see the terms and conditions.
Suitable for adults only
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The Observatory Science Centre is part of Science Projects Ltd, a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 02186073 and a registered charity No: 298542. The registered office is 3 – 15 Stirling Road, Acton, London. W3 8DJ. UK.