An outbreak of Leonid meteors in 1999 from a distance of 38,000 feet from the Leonid Multi Instrument Aircraft Campaign (Leonid MAC) with 50mm Camera. (NASA / AMES RESEARCH CENTER / ISAS / SHINSUKE ABE AND HAJIME YANO)
Colorful shooting stars will soon roam the night sky during one of the most famous annual. It is expected that the meteor shower of the Leonids will peak during the night of Monday morning from 17 to 18 November.
The Leonid Meteor Shower occurs every year as the earth flows through a cloud of debris left behind by the comet 55P / Temple-Tuttle. When the debris collides with the atmosphere, shooting stars are formed.
The Leonids take their name from the constellation Leo – the meteors seem to radiate from this point in the sky. They are active for most of November, but they only become visible when they reach their peak this weekend.
According to NASA, stargazers may expect peaks of about 15 meteors per hour this year. Leonids are usually bright and colorful shooting stars with a speed of 71 km / s, which draw lasting traces across the sky.
Every 33 years, the Leonids produce a meteor storm, while the comet comes closest to the sun, caused by particularly dense debris producing more than 1,000 meteors per hour. Another is expected in 2031.
When and where to observe the Leonids
To see a meteor shower, escape the bright lights of your city and head to a place with a clear view of the night sky. According to NASA, they only become fully visible after midnight when the meteors collide head-on with the atmosphere.
Turn east, lay flat on your back and look up so your eyes can get used to the darkness for about 30 minutes. Look for fireballs, which are larger explosions of light and color that can last longer than average shooting stars. The show will last until dawn.
Due to their orbit, Leonids enter the Earth's atmosphere at the fastest possible meteorite velocities. Despite the relatively mild predictions for this year's showers, the stargazers should be able to continue to see the long-lasting green streaks they left behind.
Unfortunately, the moon is 80% full during peak showers, so visibility is poor. For best views, block the moon from your field of view.
If you do not have a clear view of the shower from your location, there is usually a NASA-hosted Meteor livestream that you can comfortably watch from your bed.
After the Leonids, the Geminids are the next meteor shower that will reach its peak on the night of December 13th.