STATES CHRONICLE – If you have never seen a meteor shower in all of its glory, this week might be your chance to scrape that off your bucket list, as one of the most anticipated sky shows will reach maximum this week.
The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak Tuesday night into Wednesday morning (Nov. 17 to Nov. 18), offering skygazers the chance to witness some brilliant “shooting stars.” However, expectations shouldn’t be too high, as this year’s Leonid show won’t match the amazing displays we have seen in the past.
Shortly before dawn local time, people in places dark enough and with skies clear enough will see the meteor shower, which won’t be competing in light with the waxing-crescent moon. According to NASA, the queen of the skies will set before midnight, leaving the skies dark for you to see the bright and colorful meteors.
The Leonid shower is an annual event that occurs when Earth passes through the debris left behind by a small comet called Temple-Tuttle; the comet completes the full orbit of the sun every 33 years. As described on NASA’s website, skygazers should expect to witness approximately meteors per hour, all radiating from the constellation Leo.
Compared to the shows put on by the Perseids – which we recently witnessed at a 50 to 100 meteor rate –the Leonids have a low peak meteor count, but they usually make up in quality for the lack of quantity. If you keep an eye on the night sky you can see some fast-moving, bright and colorful meteors.
Moreover, NASA explained that Leonids are can also display beautiful earthgrazer meteors and fireballs, which are large explosions of color and light visible for a longer period than the average meteor streak. Due to its 33-year cycle around the sun, the Leonid meteor shower puts on a great show at completion; the last storm was witnessed in 2002.
NASA advises those who want to get their best view of the Leonids to get away from the city lights to a place where more sky is visible. Be patient, because the eyes will need to adapt to the dark conditions (they need up to 30 minutes to do so), but after that, you will spot some meteors on the night sky.
Prepare with blankets and hot beverages – it’s November weather after all – and watch the night sky light up around midnight on Wednesday through dawn on Thursday. For those who can’t get away from the city, the Slooh Community Observatory is broadcasting the shower starting at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Image Source: Planet Save