Look up tonight for second peak at Leonids meteor shower in UAE

The UAE skies will light up once again as the Leonids meteor shower builds up to a crescendo for a second peak in the early hours of Friday, serving up a starry spectacle for skywatchers.

Enthusiasts hoping to catch this meteor shower should wait until after midnight on Thursday to witness the visual display at its best, says the Dubai Astronomy Group (DAG).

“The most ideal time to catch the Leonids event is between midnight and 3am, which is when the Earth has rotated to a front facing position of the meteor shower,” Dr. Hasan Ahmad Al Hariri, CEO of DAG, told Emirates 24|7.

Speaking about the second peak in this annual celestial occurrence, he said: “It can happen sometimes, as the tail of a comet, which leaves behind a trail of dust particles, is never evenly distributed.

“So in one stance you can have a surge of activity, like we experienced on Wednesday early morning and then see it follow up with a second peak that may occur in the early hours of Friday. Such predictions are based on the rate of fall of meteorite, which is not equal to distribution.”

The DAG head has handed out advice for skywatchers eager to see the cosmic occurrence, starting out with finding the perfect spot to watch the Leonids event.

“You must find a very dark area, away from the light pollution from the city, to catch at least a few meteor occurrences per hour,” he explained. “I wouldn’t recommend enthusiasts to drive off into the desert alone, unless they are in a group and have the experience.”

He continued: “There is no need to take camera equipment, or other specialised gadgetry along with you. Just roll out your mat, lay down and watch the skies; that is the best way to watch a meteor shower.”

The Leonid meteor shower is named after the constellation, Leo the Lion, because of its trajectory that radiates from the vicinity of stars representing a Lion’s mane. It follows the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 33 years.

This annual display, states the DAG, is one of the most prominent celestial events, historically known to surprise skywatchers with a spectacular show.

Back in 1833, the Leonids produced 100,000 meteors per hour, while 2002 produced 3,000 meteor showers per hour.