With the Leonids known to create particularly bright streaks across the sky, we should be in for a treat on Thursday night and into Friday morning, when the meteor shower peaks.
The Leonid meteor shower is caused by dusty bits of debris left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle as it orbits the sun. The particles cause bright trails as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere at high speed.
According to NASA, the eagle-eyed among us could see as many as 20 meteors per hour blazing across the sky. However, it also points out that the moon will be around 35% full that night so its light may obscure the view of some of the fainter meteors. Still, as the Leonids often offer some particularly bright streaks, there should be plenty of meteor action to enjoy.
And while you’re looking up, take a moment to spot some of the other celestial objects populating the night sky, too.
How to watch
To give yourself the best chance of spotting the Leonids, head out late evening on Thursday, November 17, and find a dark spot well away from any light pollution. If you’re in the city and can easily make your way to a remote location with a broad view of the sky without any bright lights nearby, then do just that.
Be sure to take warm clothing, blankets, hot drinks, and if possible, some hot snacks, too, so you can feel comfortable while enjoying the light show. A portable reclining seat, or something warm to lie on will prevent you from having to stand there straining your neck as you look up into the night sky.
NASA says: “While the moon will be rising in the east with [the star constellation] Leo around midnight local time, it’s actually better to view the sky away from the meteors’ apparent point of origin, by lying back and looking straight upward, as any meteor trails you see will appear longer and more spectacular.” Check out the video above for a more detailed explanation.
All set? Now just keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!