The Leonid meteor shower will peak again tonight. Which direction should you look to see it?
- Some of the greatest meteor showers ever seen have been the Leonids.
- In ideal conditions you can see 10 to 15 meteors at the peak of the shower.
- Leonid meteors travel at 44 miles per second and are considered to be some of the fastest meteors out there.
Keep an eye to the sky over the next couple of days: The peak of the Leonid meteor shower will be visible across the chilly November sky in the early morning hours.
The peak of this year's Leonid meteor shower spans several days and will be best seen on Wednesday and Thursday, according to AccuWeather.
The Leonids appear to be coming from the constellation Leo the Lion (hence their name) in the east, but they will be visible all the way across the sky.
Some of the greatest meteor showers ever seen have been the Leonids. In some years, they've been a full-fledged meteor "storm." The 1833 Leonid meteor storm included rates as high as an incredible 100,000 meteors per hour, EarthSky said.
The 1833 event is sometimes called “the night the stars fell," according to EarthSky. It was the first recorded meteor storm in modern history.
No such storm is expected this year, however.
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In ideal conditions, you can see 10 to 15 meteors an hour at the peak of the shower, according to EarthSky. In 2021, unfortunately, we will have to deal with a waxing gibbous moon, which will make it hard to see fainter meteors. The best time to look is just before dawn Wednesday and Thursday after the moon has set.
Also known as "shooting stars," the meteors are actually leftover comet dust. They're pea- and sand-size bits of dust and debris crumbling off the Tempel-Tuttle comet as it swings by the Earth. (Earth’s orbit takes it straight through the debris trail.)
The dust and debris ignite when they hit our atmosphere.
Leonids are also fast: They travel at 44 miles per second and are considered to be some of the fastest meteors out there, NASA said.
Here are some meteor shower viewing tips, courtesy of NASA:
- Find an area well away from city or street lights.
- Come prepared for chilly weather with a sleeping bag, blanket, or lawn chair.
- Orient yourself with your feet toward the east, lie flat on your back and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible.
In less than 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. Be patient – the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse of the sky spectacle.
The weather will cooperate for meteor watchers in the southeastern U.S. along with interior sections of the West, where clouds will be few and far between, according to Accuweather. Conditions will be less favorable across parts of the central states, thanks to cloudy skies from a cold front that's slicing through the region.