CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — The 2013 Leonid meteor shower will peak tonight on the night of Saturday, November 16 through the early morning hours of Sunday, November 17.
Unfortunately, a full moon this weekend will likely wash out all but the very brightest Leonids. According to NASA, the Leonid meteor rates, normally 10-20 per hour, are predicted to be less than 10 per hour.
“We can predict when Earth will cross a debris stream with pretty good accuracy,” says NASA astronomer Bill Cooke. “The intensity of the display is less certain, though, because we don’t know how much debris is in each stream.”
Where to Watch the November 2013 Meteor Shower:
The 2013 Leonid meteor shower should be visible from any populated area on the planet with clear dark skies, though Northern Hemisphere observers are favored due to the radiant’s location in the constellation Leo.
How to Watch the Meteor Shower Tonight:
For optimal viewing, NASA suggests that shooting star watchers find an open sky because Leonid meteors can appear in any part of it. Lie on the ground and look straight up into the dark sky. Again, it is important to be far away from artificial lights. Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to dark-adapt.
Where does the Leonid Meteor Shower come from?
Leonids are bits of debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle. Every 33 years the comet visits the inner solar system and leaves a stream of dusty debris in its wake. Many of these streams have drifted across the November portion of Earth’s orbit. Whenever the Earth hits one, meteors appear to be flying out of the constellation Leo.
Image Credit: NASA