Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight: Best time to see shooting stars

Leonid meteor shower peaks tonight: Best time to see shooting stars

Tonight and tomorrow morning will give sky watchers the best chance to see the Leonid meteor.

The Leonids will peak on the evening of Thursday, November 17th into the early morning hours of Friday, November 18th. The best viewing time will be around 6:00 PM CT on Thursday, so if you’re brave enough to brave the cold, you could be in for a treat, with the Leonids generally providing as many as 20 meteors per hour, according to NASA.

Even better – the Leonids are known for being brightly colored and super fast, traveling at around 44 miles per second, with trails that can last for several seconds as they move across the sky, making some visible even in moonlight.

The Leonids, named after the Leo constellation from which they appear to originate, were formed from debris left by the Tempel-Tuttle comet. Comet Tempel-Tuttle takes 33 years to go around the Sun once. The comet is relatively small – its nucleus is only 2.24 miles in diameter.

However, don’t limit your viewing to just the Leo constellation. In fact, it is better to view the Leonids further away from the radiant: they will appear longer and more spectacular from this perspective. If you look directly into the radiant, you’ll see that the meteors will be short — a perspective effect, NASA said.

It is best to go somewhere dark to see the meteor shower. City lights and their reflection can camouflage shooting stars. It will take about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so don’t worry if you can’t see them right away.

If you miss tonight, you might still be able to catch a glimpse of the Leonids. The meteor shower is active until December 2. After that, you can see the Geminids around December 14th and the Ursids around December 22nd.

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