It is now late November, and the Leonid Meteor Shower is in full swing. This phenomenon happens every year at the same time, when the Earth’s orbit and the orbit of the comet Tempel-Tuttle come in close proximity.
As the comet passes, it leaves a torrent of solid fragments, all displaced by the comet as the frozen gases and ice on the surface of the comet melt and evaporate as the comet passes close to the sun, the radiation from which heats the comet.
These solid fragments are known as Meteors
The Leonid Meteor Shower is just one of many meteor showers our Earth passes through each year, the Perseid and Orionid Meteor showers being two of them, in August and October respectively. The Comet Swift-Tuttle causing the Perseid shower, and Halley’s comet causing the Orionid shower. Most of us have heard of Halley’s comet previously.
The Leonid Meteor Shower will conclude sometime around November 30th, and with its conclusion, let us examine the make-up and assemblance of elements and minerals in our solar system, and our own bodies as well.
A Comet is comprised of rock, water ice, dust, and frozen gases. These gases may include carbon monoxide, methane and ammonia. In addition to these gases, organic compounds and other amalgamated mixtures of complex molecules may be present, to include, ethanol, formaldehyde, methanol, hydrogen cyanide, amino acids, and long chain hydrocarbons.
In recent years, Scientists have discovered a multitude of other compounds in the remnants of meteors that have landed on earth, and these discoveries are forcing us to re-examine all theories as to our assemblance in the solar system.
Comets are generally referred to as Outer Solar System Bodies, because there orbits take them way out into the galaxy. Their structure is irregular, as their gravity does not make them rounded and spherical.
So with the passing of the Tempel-Tuttle Comet, we get a galactic light show beyond compare, and the wonders of our Universe lie in the observation of these objects, provoking more than one of our greatest Scientific minds of a bygone era, into research and intrigue over the origins of us all.
Watch the video of the Leonid Meteor Shower here.
Article by Jim Donahue