The “Leonid meteor shower” peaks this coming weekend! In this article we’ll discuss what a meteor shower is, how to view the shooting stars, and when to view them.
Meteor Showers 101
Shooting stars are meteors — small particles in space that quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The particles for the Leonid meteor shower (or “the Leonids” for short) are leftover bits of a comet called “Tempel–Tuttle” that flies near Earth every 33 years. As the Earth orbits the Sun, every year at about this time we pass through the dust left behind by Comet Tempel–Tuttle’s many visits to our neck of the galactic woods.
It’s called the “Leonids” because the shooting stars in this meteor shower all appear to fly toward us from the constellation Leo (the Lion).
How to view the meteor shower
So consider going outside under the night sky with your significant other, and make some wishes upon every shooting star you see! No telescope or binoculars needed: Just bring along a lawn chair or long towel on which to lie down. You might want to bring along some food and drink and, depending on where you live in the world, either some mosquito repellent or warm clothing. Then, just look up.
When to look for the Leonids
The Leonid meteor shower peaks the nights of November 17-18 this year — over a weekend! You might see as many as 10 shooting stars per hour. The absolute best time to view the meteors is between 3 am and sunrise, but you should see shooting stars throughout the night.
Clear skies to you!
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