Even if you are not an astronomy enthusiast, the annual mid-November Leonid Meteor Shower is worth taking a look at this weekend. The Shower will be visible in the night sky Friday to Saturday night and early Saturday morning, with an hourly rate of 10 to 20 meteors. These Leonids are coming from the constellation Leo, the Lion, as the name suggests, and are coming from the east, although you should be able to see them all across the night sky.
The Leonids meteor showers have been some of the greatest that we have seen in the past. Some years they have been more intense than others when they provided us with a true light-show, meteor storm. For instance, back in 1833, the Leonid meteor storm included an outstanding hourly rate of 100,000 meteors per hour, according to Earthsky.org. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply for this year, as viewers are expected to see an hourly rate of 10 to 20 meteors.
Meteors are better known as “shooting stars,” and they are leftover comet dust. Actually, they are tiny sand-sized bits of dust and debris that crumble off the Tempel-Tuttle comet every time it passes by the Earth. The dust and debris that comes from the comet burn as they enter our atmosphere.
But, overall, the Leonid meteor shower this weekend is not much different than any other meteor shower in particular. The best time to observe the shower is between the hours of midnight to dawn, according to Earthsky.org.
David Samuhel, who is an astronomy blogger and meteorologist at AccuWeather, wrote that people should invest in at least an hour to watch the meteor shower.
He also noted, “Do not look at any light source during that hour, like a phone, flashlight, or any type of screen. Your eyes will gradually adjust by a half hour, then you will have perfect night vision. You also want to lay as flat as possible so you can see as much of the sky as possible.”
Also, important factors for a good view of the shower are the moon and the weather. A clear night sky and “New Moon” phase yield great results when it comes to observing the shower. This year’s visibility will be on a high level because of the stage of the moon, as the new moon for this month will take place on Nov. 18. That means that the meteors won’t be washed out by the lunar light, according to Space.com.
In terms of weather, while the Southwest should have the best conditions for observing, the northern Plains and along the Southeast coast also look good. People in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast won’t have as much luck.
“A large storm system will be moving from the Plains into the Great Lakes, and cloudy skies are forecast to dominate much of the eastern half of the nation,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Kyle Elliot.
“Rain and thunderstorms will put an even bigger damper on viewing conditions in many of these areas.”
We are crossing our fingers for excellent weather conditions for the upcoming Leonid Meteor Shower! Don’t miss it!