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Leonid Meteor Shower Returns This Week

November 16, 2000

The annual Leonid meteor shower returns this week, with the peak meteor intensities occurring tonight and Friday night. The optimal viewing periods will begin at 11 p.m. each night, with the number of meteors peaking between midnight and 1:30 a.m. Information about how much meteor activity will be visible from a given location is available at leonid.arc.nasa.gov.

Last year's Leonid shower was heavily studied by NASA and revealed some surprises. Researchers concluded that organic chemicals in the meteorites could survive the fiery entry into the Earth's atmosphere, possibly seeding the planet with exotic chemicals. They also concluded that meteors were not as hot as had been expected. Most of the light emitted by them comes from the warm wake behind them and not from the meteor itself.

--Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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